Wooden boards were erected across crenels in the centuries-old monument — the city’s main tourist attraction
However, the Department for Communities (DfC) which manages the walls said work is not expected to be finished until spring 2023.
Wooden boards were erected across crenels in the centuries-old monument — the city’s main tourist attraction.
The unsightly boards are visible from streets surrounding the 400-year-old structure and to the many tourists circling it daily.
Members of the public appeared oblivious as to why the boards were put up.
People said it looked “shocking” and like the city was preparing for an “invasion”.
Retired SDLP politician Pat Ramsey shared images on social media and said visitors to the city had raised the issue with him, adding that “many people were angered and appalled”.
Derry is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe.
The Walls were built during the period 1613-1618 by The Honourable the Irish Society, as defences for early seventeenth century settlers from England and Scotland.
Sections of security fencing were removed from the walls in December, which was seen as a positive step forward.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) initiated “a partial interface removal scheme”.
During the height of the Troubles, large parts of the walls were inaccessible as a result of being closed off by screens, gates and fences erected at interface areas by the security forces.
The recently removed fencing was in front of crenels which did not have appropriate health and safety bars in place.
However, the wooden panels stretch beyond that specific area.
UUP councillor Darren Guy said he was told the work would take no longer than four to six weeks. “We would want this work to be done within a month because more tourists are coming to visit the city in February and March. They would all rather see the walls in their full glory. It is one of the biggest tourist attractions we have.”
Meanwhile, People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin acknowledged that health and safety has to be taken seriously and removing security fencing is a positive move.
He added: “At the moment it looks like an eyesore. It is already clear people feel the department should be dealing with it as quickly as possible.
“The department should provide a more definite date. For the aesthetic value of the walls, it is important that we see the city represented in the best possible light, and the department should be cognisant of that.”
DfC said timber barriers have been “temporarily inserted” into openings at Derry’s Walls as a health and safety measure, following recent removal of security fencing, to mitigate any potential fall risks.
“Historic Environment Division in the Department for Communities, who manage the walls as a State Care Monument, are currently manufacturing sympathetic permanent barriers which will replace these temporary fixings,” a spokesperson added.
“It is anticipated the permanent barriers will be in place by spring 2023.”