Bonfire ‘causing sectarian violence’ claims former resident

The dumping site at Leckagh Drive bonfire.INMM2413-355SR
The dumping site at Leckagh Drive bonfire.INMM2413-355SR

A FORMER resident of the Leckagh estate in Magherafelt who suffered relentless attacks on his home and family says an annual bonfire being held there is encouraging sectarian violence.

Responding to an article ran in the MAIL earlier this month, the man, whose home was first attacked in 2011, says the Eleventh Night celebrations need to be moved outside of the estate to prevent further violence and intimidation.

He claimed the bonfire not only encouraged sectarian attacks, but also incidents of anti-social behaviour, and said Magherafelt District Council needed to take action.

In a letter to the MAIL, the former resident said: “Myself and family were attacked at our home along with other Catholics in Leckagh drive by Protestants standing drinking around the bonfire.

“We had over £3000+ damages done, windows broken and car damaged etc.

“We didn’t sell drugs or pull down flags. We took offence to our children being called Fenian b******* day after day.”

“The police reported fifty people rioted, they recorded with cameras and flood lights on the SU land rovers.

“How many were convicted ......none. We ourselves identified two, who were taken to court and convicted.

“We had no cameras. The next year was the same windows broken car damaged...five years later we called it a day.”

He continued: “Who paid for the damages during the riots? How much did it cost taxpayers?

“If you complain to someones door YOU WERE TARGETED...If you call the police YOU WERE TARGETED..... If you shouted back YOU WERE TARGETED.... you couldn’t win.”

“Will the council get up an take notice this year. er NO .....move the bonfire.”

The resident also claimed the housing area was “being run” by paramilitaries that have struck fear into those living in Leckagh.

“The estate is being run by UVF and UDA and is getting worse.

“But the council will keep on giving money, judges will still let them off why, because they had drink in them around the bonfire?”

“How many Catholics will come along with these people running fun days in Leckagh estate? I will tell you none.”

The father also claimed most residents wanted the bonfire moved out of the estate.

“It encourages drinking, sectarian violence, and destruction of property.

“Not to mention the mental and emotional damaged caused to people targeted during July. Let the residents decide, most want it gone anyway.”

He added: “The problem is some people in the Leckagh drive estate don’t realise there equal, (the same as everyone else) Its only when the realise this they will be better than others.”

He concluded: “This is not from a Catholic, and I would be ashamed to be called a Protestant.”

Last week the MAIL received a joint statement from the Sperrin Cultural Awareness group and the South Londonderry Ulster Political Research Group.

Responding to a story in which a local resident criticised how the area had been “turned into a dump” ahead of the bonfire, the group claimed the comments were “wholly reflective” of those living in the estate.

It said: “Every year the bonfire and the festivities leading up to the 12th are enjoyed by a great many people from right across South Londonderry especially those who live in the estate.

“Relations within our community are at an all time high and so it was with sadness that we read an article which in reality represented only the views of one or two disgruntled individuals.

It concluded: “We would hope that tolerance and respect prevails in the coming weeks, no one has anything to fear from Protestant heritage and culture and those being so critical and dismissive of it are probably saying more about themselves than we ever could.”