Sinn Féin speak out after tyres put on anti-internment bonfire

An anti-internment bonfire in Manor Street in the Oldpark area of north Belfast was set alight. Picture by Bill Smyth
John Monaghan

SINN Féin has called on statutory agencies to intervene after tyres were added to an anti-internment bonfire in north Belfast.

The tyres were placed on the bonfire in the New Lodge area, close to homes, while on Monday a site in Manor Street in the Oldpark was set alight.

It comes as the 45th anniversary of the beginning of internment is marked today, with bonfires appearing in several republican areas of Belfast, including Divis and the Short Strand.

North Belfast MLA Carál Ní Chuilín said those behind the bonfire in the New Lodge had "stuck two fingers up" to local residents.

Ms Ní Chuilín said: "A bonfire has been erected in the New Lodge area against the wishes of the residents in the Victoria Barracks area.

"Those behind this bonfire, which is a magnet for anti-social behaviour, are sticking two fingers up to local residents."

She added: "Tyres have now been added to this bonfire in a built-up residential area and that will mean that homes will be exposed to toxic fumes."

The former Culture, Arts and Leisure Minister said that residents had "made it clear in a series of meetings to Belfast City Council, the PSNI and the Housing Executive that they are united in opposition to this bonfire."

She said: "Myself and councillor JJ Magee have been in contact with all these statutory bodies demand they step up to the plate and deliver on their obligations to the residents."

"And it's imperative that the police and the courts deal with any instances of anti-social behaviour connected to this bonfire."

A Housing Executive spokesman said the agency was working to "reduce the impact of bonfires", but said that the bonfire in the New Lodge was "not on our land."

The spokesman said: "We are aware of a bonfire being built in the New Lodge area. We aim to work with the local community and a range of other organisations to reduce the impact of bonfires."

"We can confirm that in this instance, this bonfire is not on our land."

PSNI Chief Inspector Rachel Shields said: "The physical removal of bonfire material is not a matter for police however we will assist other statutory bodies carry out their duties if called upon to do so."

She added: "Police are always willing to address community concerns on a broad number of issues, including bonfires and we would advise that organisers ensure they have sought permission from relevant landowners and that bonfires are safe, pose no threat to life or property and are not likely to prompt a breach of the peace or any other offence."

Belfast City Council did not respond to a request for comment.

Last August, a homeless charity was forced to close its centre for several hours due to an anti-internment bonfire.

Shutters on the Belfast Welcome Organisation's building in the Divis area were pulled down in a pre-planned move due to concerns about heat from the pyre.


Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: