A drugs ‘den’ has been found at a holy shrine in Derry.

A ‘bong’ device and other drugs paraphernalia were found last week at the Our Lady of Lourdes grotto (pictured) in the Brandywell area of the city.

Blankets had also been placed on trees in a wooden area of the grotto to create the ‘den’.

A spokesperson for the committee which looks after the grotto, which was built in 1945, said it was the first time that they had ever experienced such a problem.

The grotto was built just after the Second World War in thanksgiving that Derry suffered little during the war.

Kathleen McCallion, one of a number of local women who look after the shrine, said they were shocked when they were told that drugs had been found there.

She added: “It was the man who cuts the grass in the grotto who told me that he had found the thing which we were then told was a drugs bong,” said Mrs McCallion.

“When we went up to have a look we could see the blankets they had used to create some sort of den in the trees.

“This is really shocking for us.

“I have been helping to look after the grotto for around 35 years and it is the first time that we have ever come across something like this.”

Mrs McCallion said the grotto committee had contacted local politicians and community workers in the hope of getting the problem addressed.

“We are also looking at putting leaflets around local houses asking people to keep an eye on the grotto for any unusual activity in or around the grotto.

“We would also hope that parents would make sure that their children are not involved in anything around the grotto.

“We are very proud of the grotto and certainly don’t want this type of behaviour in it.”

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