‘The vast majority do not want this thuggery’

Image caption Creggan is largely a republican community not far from the centre of Londonderry

Creggan in Derry is seen as a dissident republican stronghold.

It’s where journalist Lyra McKee was murdered earlier this year, a bomb was found in a car last week and police officers have been attacked.

What do local people think about their neighbourhood being in the headlines?

James is working in his garden.

Across the street is graffiti on the wall that reads: “New IRA here to stay”.

He says he had to leave his home on Monday night as streets were cordoned off.

Image caption Young people threw petrol bombs at PSNI Land Rovers on Monday

“Young people then started to throw petrol bombs at police Land Rovers,” he says.

Police officers found a bomb on Monday during a security search targeting the New IRA.

Police said a crowd of between 60 and 100 young people also gathered in Creggan that evening.

Some of them attacked the police with petrol bombs and stones. Others stood by watching.

At least two of the young people suffered burn injuries.

“At midday I was planting flowers in my garden. At midnight, I was running away to a community centre from a bomb,” says James, who did not want his full name being used.

“I am sick to the back teeth with this carry on. I’m elderly now and I’ve seen a lot through the Troubles. The vast majority of people in Creggan do not want this thuggery.

“A friend from England called me to ask how I was. All I could say was: ‘Planting flowers and avoiding bombs’.”

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has said, on a number of occasions, that it believes most of the violence in Creggan is orchestrated and that some of the young people are being exploited by paramilitaries.

Image copyright Psni
Image caption A bomb, containing commercial explosives, was found in a car on Monday

At the heart of Creggan there’s a school. Not too far from the school gates is a sign saying “informants will be shot”.

Some community workers act as mediators with dissident republicans on a regular basis in order to prevent further violence.

The anti-British and anti-police messages are clearly visible when you arrive in the area.

Many families were also directly affected during Northern Ireland’s conflict – known as The Troubles.

One community worker told BBC News NI that dissident republicans – who are prepared to use violence to achieve their aim of a united Ireland – “like to think they are recruiting young people to push their message forward”.

The New IRA admitted carrying out the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in April in Creggan.

One 24-year-old woman says she was standing “a couple of hundred yards” from where Ms McKee was shot.

The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, told BBC News NI she was by no means happy with the fact that Ms McKee was killed, but that she did support the PSNI being attacked with petrol bombs.

“A lot of people don’t realise what we go through here. I have no job. My family went through a lot during the Troubles. I feel strongly about them leaving us alone in Creggan.”

Image copyright Brendan Gallagher
Image caption Lyra McKee wanted to write about the affects of violence on young people in Derry

The woman was able to show BBC News NI footage on her phone of the police being targeted in recent months and years.

“We share it in group chats. We don’t appreciate their attendance here during the day or at night. I know I don’t speak for every young person.”

A PSNI spokesperson said: “We are there for the safety of all communities.”

‘Back off’

A 25-year-old man walks past Creggan shops listening to music. He is on his way to a body combat class in the local community centre.

“I struggle to understand why some of the young people want to cause bother,” he says.

“I’ve lived here all my life, too. I went into the town on Monday night to get away from it all. All I can say to them is: ‘Move on’. There are better things to be doing in Creggan and across the city.”

Image caption Graffiti features on a number of walls throughout Creggan and across the city

Outside the community centre, known locally as the corn beef tin, are five women having a cigarette. They are waiting for one of their weekly classes to start.

“I’ve lived here since I was born and there are many, many positive people here in Creggan,” Karen Doherty says.

“Negative headlines are broadcast about us around the world and it makes me feel sick to the stomach. The good things never get discussed. There are many wonderful people here and things to do.

“Yes, there are big issues, but it involves a small minority. We are a close community.

“During the Troubles there were soldiers here, bombs and tanks, but we were almost safer then than we are now. I’m not sure if it’s because we were immune to it back then, but the young people now are uncontrollable.”

Image caption Kathleen Dalzell (left) and Karen Doherty have lived in Creggan all of their lives

Kathleen Dalzell says some of the young people in Creggan are being exploited.

“There’s a bigger picture here,” she adds.

“Those dissidents need to back off. No one in Derry wants to see this. I had a great upbringing here.

“We all help each other out in the hour of need. That’s the real Creggan.”

Image caption Fr Joseph Gormley is based at St Mary’s in Creggan

Fr Joseph Gormley, who was called to the scene of Lyra McKee’s shooting, says had the bomb on Monday not been found and diffused, “we could have had another loss of life”.

“This community has been through a lot,” Fr Gormley adds.

“Many people are knackered and fed up with the constant negative headlines but we can’t shy away from the fact these things are happening.

“Those responsible should be able to see that Creggan does not want to go backwards. Let Creggan flourish the way it deserves to.”

Original Article : HERE ; The Ultimate Survival Food: The Lost Ways