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Bonfire material being stored at east Belfast walkway

Bonfire material in a car park off the Newtownards Road in east Belfast

BONFIRE material has been dumped at an east Belfast walkway - just days after the Irish News revealed the council was storing thousands of pallets ahead of the Twelfth.

Tyres, pallets and other wooden material was brought into a car park on Bloomfield Walkway, off Upper Newtownards Road, over the weekend. A caravan has also been set up on the site.

It only appeared to have been moved into the area in the days after it was revealed Belfast City Council had been storing pallets for loyalists building bonfires.

The Irish News last week highlighted that the local authority were storing around 2,500 pallets for the site of an east Belfast bonfire. The council had removed the material from Bloomfield Walkway in recent weeks.

There were also suggestions that the UDA had stolen thousands of pallets from an east Belfast storage site last Wednesday because it feared the material would not be returned after the council scheme was revealed.

But on Saturday, dozens of pallets and other bonfire material was placed in a car park close to the public walkway, an area which is part of the Comber Greenway, a popular walking and cycling route stretching into the city.

Loyalists gathering the material also appeared to be critical of the Irish News highlighting the actions of Belfast City Council with a large sign erected at the site stating "F*** the Irish News".

SDLP councillor Tim Attwood criticised the move to bring the material back into the area.

"It is a matter of concern that this site, which is a part of a popular and busy walkway, is now filled with bonfire material," he said.

"Obviously we don't know at this stage where it has come from, but our party view is that where there is unwanted bonfire material, we should be working with all agencies to remove it.

"We try to work with communities, we understand there are concerns and we know there are people who do not want this on their doorstep."

On Friday, Belfast City councillors pledged a full inquiry into the local authority's controversial storage of bonfire material.

Nationalist councillors had expressed outrage they were not informed the council was using ratepayers' money to facilitate bonfires by storing material.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has called for action after pallets were dumped at the base of one of the New Lodge tower blocks in north Belfast.

Carál Ní Chuilín said those people responsible had shows the "utmost disregard for this community and those who live in this tower block".

"There has been a small group of anti-social elements engaging in collecting bonfire material over the past week and rightly the community has rejected this," she said.

She added that she had been in contact with the PSNI, the Housing Executive and Belfast City Council to "get this removed with urgency".

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