Leona O’Neill talks to peo­ple liv­ing in fear,

Belfast Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - Leona O’Neill

THE scene out­side their liv­ing room win­dow has re­sem­bled a war zone for sev­eral nights and res­i­dents of Fa­han Street, where much of the trou­ble has been fo­cused, say they are trapped in their homes and “liv­ing in fear”.

On the night of July 12 some 74 petrol bombs were thrown at po­lice along the city walls, most of them at PSNI ve­hi­cles parked at the top of the hill on Fa­han Street, a road of some 20 houses lead­ing into the city cen­tre, where just hours ear­lier some 23,000 Orange­men had pa­raded.

Be­fore dark­ness fell at­tempts were made to hi­jack ve­hi­cles in the Bog­side and a youth threw a petrol bomb at a pass­ing van on busy Lecky Road.

Bar­ri­cades were dragged across the road at the fly­over and at the bot­tom of Fa­han Street and set alight as hun­dreds of youths con­gre­gated in the area.

As the light faded, res­i­dents bat­tened down the hatches and pre­pared for a night that saw petrol bombs rain down on their doorsteps and ba­ton rounds fired in re­sponse.

One res­i­dent, who did not wish to be iden­ti­fied, watched pro­ceed­ings un­fold from his liv­ing room win­dow.

“It was very bad last night,” he said.

“We have lived in this house for 25 years.

“We have seen it all, but that was as bad as it ever was.

“It was just con­stant thuds and smash­ing glass.

“I am fear­ful that this will go on and on. There were young guys of eight, nine and 10 years old out ri­ot­ing.

“They should be at homes in their bed, sleep­ing.

“We were trapped in our home last night. And if we needed a doctor or any­thing they couldn’t have got through to us.

“There is no back way out of these houses.

“I am afraid that they would hit the house with a petrol bomb or burn a car out in front of the house that could catch the house.”

Fur­ther down the street sits a

row of bun­ga­lows at St Columb’s Wells fac­ing onto Lecky Road, where youths have been con­gre­gat­ing and burn­ing bar­ri­cades all week.

Most of the el­derly res­i­dents have moved out in re­cent days due to the dis­tur­bances. One woman in her 80s was ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal with high blood pres­sure.

One of the last re­main­ing el­derly res­i­dents said: “It is very dis­tress­ing liv­ing here at the mo­ment.

The lady be­side me here is in her 80s.

“It was very rough here for us on Mon­day night and she was at her wits’ end, so her fam­ily took her away for a few days.

“There is a lady at the top of the street who is 90 years old, she has mo­bil­ity is­sues and Alzheimer’s. She has stayed.

“The lady next door to her was taken into hos­pi­tal the other night. Her blood pres­sure is sky high be­cause of this.

“It is very, very dis­tress­ing. We don’t need it or don’t want it. It’s not fair.”

Peo­ple liv­ing in the Bog­side are fear­ful that the vi­o­lence will es­ca­late.

Yes­ter­day, po­lice and am­mu­ni­tion tech­ni­cal of­fi­cers searched a derelict building and its sur­round­ings which the youths have been us­ing as a “head­quar­ters”.

It is not clear if they found any­thing, but po­lice are adamant that there will be more ar­rests.

This comes as wel­come news to those liv­ing in the fir­ing line.

An­other Fa­han Street res­i­dent said that af­ter Thurs­day night’s ri­ot­ing she went into her shed to look for the metal win­dow grilles which all the res­i­dents were given when they moved into the homes 25 years ago.

“The fronts of the houses still have the latches that they slot into, but they haven’t been used in so long, maybe five or six years, that they are all rusty and bro­ken,” they said.

“It has been aw­ful here this last few nights. All the years we had peace, and now this.

“I was in my liv­ing room when the young peo­ple started run­ning up and pelt­ing the po­lice right in front of my house. I was afraid a petrol bomb would come in the win­dow.

“There is no back way out of our houses, just out the front. I can’t sleep for wor­ry­ing about what the next few days will bring.

“I am pray­ing for rain — that might stop them.”

BRIAN LAW­LESS/MARTIN McK­E­OWN

Ri­ot­ing on Fa­han Street, and (above) last night’s rally urg­ing an end to the vi­o­lence

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