Northern Ireland news

Bonfire youths threaten to destroy Free Derry Wall

The graffiti on Free Derry Wall was painted over on Saturday morning
Seamus McKinney

A threat to destroy the iconic Free Derry Wall if wood for a nearby bonfire is removed has been widely condemned.

A group of young people describing themselves as 'Bogside Republican Youth' erected a sign saying "If the wood goes, the wall goes" ahead of a bonfire due to be lit tomorrow night.

The youths are also believed to be responsible for a message written on Free Derry Wall saying “Take our wood? We’re prepared, are you? BRY"

The graffiti was painted over on Saturday morning before a Gasyard Féile fun day event.

The Bogside bonfire caused widespread anger last year after young people built it in the middle of the city’s Lecky Road, one of Derry’s main traffic routes.

There are fears that this year’s pyre could be even bigger as youths have been gathering wood and tyres for more than two weeks.

Earlier this month, talks between public representatives and the bonfire builders broke down when the young people demanded that they be permitted to burn flags.

Free Derry Wall is one of the city's main tourist attractions, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world every year.

The words “You Are Now Entering Free Derry” were first written on the gable in the Bogside during police raids in January 1969.

Sinn Féin councillor Patricia Logue said people are furious at the threat to the wall.

“There is no room in this community for any type of threat against anyone. People in the Bogside are very angry that any group would make such a threat," she said.

“There were extensive consultations with all the young people involved and a proposal was put forward and was accepted but then they decided it was not enough because they wanted to burn flags.”

A resident who lives near Free Derry Wall, but asked not to be named, said any attack on it was an attack on the struggle the people of the city had endured.

“You couldn’t insult Derry people more than this,” he said.

Last week, youths in Derry’s Galliagh area also threatened to burn down a local shop if bonfire material was removed before a bonfire on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.

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