Northern Ireland

Londonderry bonfire: Flags burned and missiles thrown

Flags were places on the bonfire near the city walls on Tuesday night
Image caption Union flags and the flags of other nations were burned on the bonfire near the Lecky Road

There was some disorder at a controversial bonfire in the Bogside area of Londonderry on Tuesday night.

British, American, Israeli, Ulster and some loyalist flags as well as poppy wreaths were burned on the bonfire near Lecky Road.

Some bottles and stones were thrown onto the walls. People around the fire also came under attack from some spectators on the walls.

The police moved people from the area, and the disorder ended within minutes.

Bonfires are lit in some nationalist areas on 15 August each year to mark the Catholic Feast of the Assumption.

Image caption There was another bonfire in the Creggan area of Derry

The Lecky Road fire was built on council-owned land without permission.

Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton said that thankfully nobody was seriously injured.

"Once again poppy wreaths have appeared on the bonfire which is the ultimate offence caused to people right across the community.

"It is deeply offensive."

Image caption Protective fencing was erected to protect houses below the site of the bonfire

Sinn Féin councillor Patricia Logue said that the burning of flags, emblems and poppy wreaths is wrong.

"Given the events of the night before, I would imagine that the walls should have been closed off last night."

The Housing Executive installed fencing beside nearby houses a day before the fire was lit, in order to protect the properties and residents.

There was a significant police presence in the area after trouble near the Lecky Road site on Monday night.

'Calm restored'

During Monday's disorder, petrol bombs were thrown at police and rocks and bottles were used to attack people who had gathered to watch the bonfire from the city walls.

Image caption The bonfire near Lecky Road was lit around 23:00 BST on Tuesday

A PSNI spokesperson said Tuesday night's situation was "brought quickly under control and calm is now restored".

The blaze was one of three large 15 August bonfires set alight in the city on Tuesday night.

Image caption A separate, controlled bonfire without any flags or emblems was built a short distance away

A controlled bonfire, without any flags, was organised as part of a community festival - the Gasyard Feile.

Crowds of families with young children attended the event, which included a set by the Irish folk band, Kila.

However, on the outskirts of the Creggan estate, another bonfire was covered with flags.

Image caption Flags were also burnt on a bonfire on the outskirts of the Creggan estate

In recent years, efforts have been made to replace nationalist bonfires in Derry and Belfast with family fun days and live music.

However, attempts by community workers to encourage other bonfire builders to attend the Gasyard Feile broke down last week.

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