More flags go up at 'rogue' Co Antrim bonfire site

Gareth McKeown
17 March, 2017 01:00

THE appearance of Union flags on lampposts beside a 'rogue' bonfire site, just yards from a Co Antrim housing estate, has been branded "a clear act of intimidation".

The flags were put up in recent days near Greenpark Drive in Antrim town, adjacent to a growing collection of of wooden pallets and bonfire material on Housing Executive (NIHE) owned land.

East Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney said the move coming following "reaction to the public spotlight being placed upon this inexcusable behaviour" was a "clear act of intimidation".

It emerged last week that a green field site adjacent to Greenpark Drive had become a dumping ground for wooden pallets and bonfire material.

Since the issue was highlighted hundreds of more pallets on the open ground have appeared.

Mr Kearney has accused the bonfire builders of "hijacking" the Dublin Road estate.

Tyres being removed from the Connswater Greenway in east Belfast:

"Continuing to gather material to erect and burn a rogue bonfire violates the rights of rate payers and residents who live on the estate. This activity is compromising the local environment and ecosystem," the MLA said.

"Claiming the right to celebrate any cultural tradition in our society should be totally conditional upon that being done with respect to the rights of others and without causing offence or giving disrespect," he added.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said it has "no legal powers" to remove flags unless they are erected on council property, but was "happy to work with other agencies with a view of trying to resolve these issues," they said.

Due to the volume of items deposited on the open ground it has passed on the details of the case to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA).

In a statement yesterday the NIEA said it was "currently investigating the incident.”

A Housing Executive spokesman said they are "working with the community through our Cohesion Unit."

Bonfire material left at a section of the £40m Connswater greenway was removed by NIEA staff on Wednesday following a local agreement.

17 March, 2017 01:00 News

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