Northern Ireland news

Elderly and vulnerable `living in fear' after attacks on Derry's Fountain

The interface between the protestant Fountain Estate-on left and the Bishop Street area of Derry on right. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

ELDERLY and vulnerable people are "living in fear" due to nightly attacks on Derry's mainly Protestant Fountain estate.

A petrol bomb was thrown at sheltered accommodation during a weekend of disorder.

It was thrown from the Bogside towards Alexander House on Bishop Street on Sunday.

The Lecky Road flyover was also blocked with burning bins on a second night of disorder.

On Saturday, trouble flared at the Fountain estate interface and Nailor's Row in the city's Bogside. Three petrol bombs were thrown into the Fountain, one of which ignited. Police were later attacked with more than 30 petrol bombs, bricks and bottles.

PSNI Chief Inspector Alan Hutton said people were living in fear.

"There were no injuries but the fear alone is significant. We have to consider the feelings of those vulnerable people in Alexander House," he said.

"Thankfully officers were on hand to put the flames out.

"We have not made any arrests following trouble at the weekend yet. We do have a lot of people traumatised and living in fear following recent events."

Sinn Féin, the SDLP, UUP and DUP have all condemnded the incidents.

Derry and Strabane deputy mayor Derek Hussey said the attacks were down to "pure sectarian hatred".

"This is a small Protestant community whose very existence is an affront to a section of republicans who will not be content until all Protestants are removed from the west bank of the Foyle," he said.

"Republicans embarked on a campaign of ethnic cleansing of Protestants in the early 1970s and now a new generation seems determined to try to finish the job.

"Thirty petrol bombs were thrown, some at the Fountain, the rest at the police. This is nothing less than attempted murder and cannot be tolerated by the authorities."

The scale of this disorder, he added, would not be tolerated anywhere else.

"All the people of the Fountain want is the equality and respect that others talk about. These attacks must stop and they must be stopped."

The Chair of the Derry and Strabane Policing and Community Safety Partnership, Alderman Mary Hamilton, said such disturbances were not acceptable.

"The people living in the Fountain Estate have the right to live in peace without fear of attack. Similarly, the people living in the Bogside cannot be held to ransom by a faceless minority intent on devastation and destruction," she said.

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Northern Ireland news