Controversial Bogside bonfire set to go ahead

Some of the bonfire material stored under the flyover in the Bogside. DER3217GS
Some of the bonfire material stored under the flyover in the Bogside. DER3217GS

A controversial republican bonfire in Londonderry’s Bogside looks likely to go ahead next week.

Talks to try to prevent a repeat of problems associated with last year’s bonfire have broken up with no agreement.

It’s understood youths want to burn unionist flags on the bonfire.

The burning of any flags is described as “unacceptable” by a community representative.

The bottom of the flyover at Lecky Road was partially blocked last August by a 20ft high bonfire.

It’s understood youths plan to erect the bonfire on the ‘banking’ area below the City Walls.

Donnacha McNelis, of Dove House Community Centre, described the breakdown of talks as “disappointing”.

“Over recent months, Dove House began a consultation with local residents, young people and community groups to find the best solution,” he explained. 

“The consultation showed many local residents would prefer not to have a bonfire but that, if one was to be held, then it should be in a safe, controlled and family-friendly environment.

“In June, Dove House received proposals from some young people involved in last year’s bonfire. These included a suggestion that a smaller, structured fire, with no tyres, take place at the back of the Gasyard site. An open air concert featuring local musicians was also proposed. 

“Dove House sought to accommodate these proposals. Local youth providers met with more than 70 local young people to see how this could be achieved. Their ideas have now been incorporated into the Féile events for August 15.”

However, in the interim, says Mr. MacNiallais, those young people who brought forward the original proposals have refused to be part of this process and, instead, want to have a bonfire which would involve burning flags.

“This is not part of our ethos which is why we had put forward a credible alternative which would be inclusive and celebrate our community,” said Mr MacNiallais. “We will continue to engage with the entire local community on this and we would encourage people to support Féile events in the days ahead.”