Northern Ireland news

Police meet Larne group over 2,000-pallet bonfire plans

A bonfire near Grove playing fields in north Belfast
Brendan Hughes

POLICE say they have had a "useful and frank discussion" about the importance of coronavirus restrictions with the organisers of a planned 2,000-pallet bonfire.

The Eleventh Night pyre is being organised by a community group for the Craigyhill estate in Larne, Co Antrim.

It is among several bonfire constructions resuming across Northern Ireland as Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease.

Annual Twelfth bonfires had been largely cancelled earlier this year due to the pandemic, with collections of materials largely stopping in March when lockdown began.

Craigyhill Community Development Group earlier this week posted online about plans for the bonfire.

It said that before the pandemic escalated, it had pre-ordered 2,000 pallets from a local company.

It claimed that it had spoken to police and fire crews, and they were "both happy for this to go ahead".

However, the PSNI and fire service denied this.

A meeting between the community group and police was held on Wednesday night.

In a statement, Superintendent Darrin Jones said: "The meeting was a useful and frank discussion about the importance of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2020 and the requirement for the organisers of any event to ensure they adhere to the guidelines by ensuring adequate Covid-19 precautions are in place.

"Organisers were advised that sufficient steps should be taken to mitigate any risk to public health and that breaches of the executive's regulations would be investigated."

Building has also resumed for other bonfires in the north.

Pallets have been stacked in north Belfast at a site close to Grove playing fields, which has been the scene of sectarian intimidation in recent weeks.

Organisers of the notorious Ballycraigy bonfire in Antrim have also resumed collecting wooden pallets.

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