Removal of nationalist bonfire sparks trouble in Londonderry

Fire crews were forced to withdraw from the Galliagh area of Londonderry after coming under attack in disturbances which were linked to the removal of material for a controversial bonfire.

The Department for Communities told UTV that the material was removed at the request of local residents.

The trouble flared in the Fairview Road area on Monday evening when young people attacked fire service personnel who had arrived to extinguish the blaze.

When they attempted to, they were targeted.

Police also confirmed that two Northern Ireland Housing Executive vehicles that were in the area yesterday afternoon were damaged by masonry thrown by young people who had gathered in the area.

It is believed it relates to the removal of a controversial Republican bonfire, due to be lit in August.

Debris from Monday night's wreckage was cleared away on Tuesday morning.

UTV understands that in a recent survey of residents in the area, the majority said they do not want the bonfire to be lit in the area.

A Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: "Crews from Northland Fire Station attended the first two incidents, but were unable to extinguish the fire as they were approached by a large group of youths.

"A crew from Northland Fire Station attended the third incident, but while extinguishing the fire had to withdraw for crew safety as they were again approached by a large group of youths.

"NIFRS did not attend the incident at 9.03pm, as it would have been unsafe to attend for crew safety and there was no risk to life or property."

Chief Inspector Willy Calderwood from the PSNI said: "What happened in Galliagh yesterday evening is really disappointing. To see young people involved in this type of criminal behaviour is unacceptable. We know it is not reflective of the community of Galliagh, and that this type of reckless activity is not supported by the community.

"Our Neighbourhood officers have been working with partners and groups in the community, and they will continue with this work to resolve these issues and will continue to have a visible presence in the area.

"We welcome support from community leaders to do all they can to keep the area peaceful and free from such senseless activity we know it not wanted by the community of Galliagh."

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