Fountain residents fearful but defiant after sectarian attacks

The mainly Protestant Fountain area of Londonderry has been repeatedly attacked by nationalist youths throwing petrol bombs and other missiles
The mainly Protestant Fountain area of Londonderry has been repeatedly attacked by nationalist youths throwing petrol bombs and other missiles

Residents in a mainly Protestant enclave close to Londonderry’s Bogside area have said they remain defiant in the face of nightly attacks on their homes.

People living in the Fountain are braced for further violent disorder after up to 100 petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown into the estate over the three previous nights.

Fountain resident Donna Best has hit on the head with a brick on Monday night

Fountain resident Donna Best has hit on the head with a brick on Monday night

On Monday night, crowds of youths attacked police drafted in to protect the Fountain residents and two officers and one woman were injured by missiles.

A car was then set on fire in Fahan Street during the early hours of Tuesday morning and the Leckey Road was closed after pallets were placed across the road and set alight.

Over the weekend, several people living in sheltered accommodation for the elderly found themselves in the firing line as a hail of petrol bombs, bricks and bottles threatened their safety.

Three people have arrested, with police warning that more arrests are likely to follow. One 16-year-old has been charged with disorderly behaviour.

Resident Donna Best was struck on the head with a brick on Monday evening while walking home along the city walls.

She said police are doing their best to stop the attacks but she fears what is going to happen over July 11 and the Twelfth.

“I am not expecting an easy night on the 11th July,” she said.

“It is really intense at the minute. This [violence] has definitely been orchestrated.

“I know that they don’t want us here. They ethnically cleansed the rest of the West Bank and now they want us out too, but I’m not for going anywhere. I was born and reared in this area, and so were my parents and grandparents and generations before that. I’ve done nobody any harm ... so I deserve to live in peace along with everybody else.”

Another Fountain resident, John Hetherington, said: “My young girl was out playing when the bottles started coming over last week. She came into the house screaming and crying asking what was going on. She is only seven. She actually cried herself to sleep that night,” he said.

“The next night a petrol bomb landed beside my daughter’s house just a few feet away from an oil tank. This is potentially life-threatening.

“This has been going on for years. It’s more intense at the minute, but it wouldn’t deter me from living where I’m living. I will not be intimidated out of my home. If anything it will make us stronger and more determined.

“There are some reports in the media saying that stuff is also being throw out of the Fountain but the CCTV cameras will verify that there is nothing coming out of the Fountain,” Mr Hetherington added.

DUP councillor Graham Warke is a community worker in the Fountain area.

He said: “The community is sick and tired of these attacks. I welcome the arrests made last night (Monday) and I hope there are more. These attacks must stop and this community must live in peace.”

Mr Warke’s party colleague Gary Middleton said: “There has been over 100 petrol bombs thrown during the violence and the Fountain residents are sick and tired of having to living in fear, but also the Bogside residents are very much fed up themselves. They are sitting in their own homes being terrorised and they are afraid to speak out as they don’t want to be targeted. Those involved are terrorising their own communities and people just want it to stop.”

• A 50-year-old man has been charged with intentionally encouraging or assisting riot. He was arrested close to the scene of disorder in Londonderry on Monday night but the offences relate to an incident in Rossville Street on May 28.