Northern Ireland news

New Lodge bonfire cancelled after agreement with young people

The planned bonfire in the New Lodge area of north Belfast will not go ahead this year. Picture by Matt Bohill

A bonfire in north Belfast that resulted in a 10-hour stand off with police last year will not go ahead tonight after an agreement with young people.

A group of around 40 teenagers have agreed not to hold the planned bonfire in the New Lodge and all wood has now been removed.

Last August the bonfire resulted in riot police being deployed to the area to remove the material.

However, two young men sat on top of the pyre and refused to budge.

The PSNI eventually withdrew and crowds that arrived for the fire caused a major disturbance, with several people seriously injured and dozens arrested.

The bonfire is traditionally lit on August 8, to mark the anniversary of the introduction of internment without trial in 1971.

While concerns around such bonfires are clear and few people in the area welcome it, youth worker Tarlach Mac Dhónaill said the more complex issue of generational neglect and poverty is not so easily resolved.

The Irish News has talked to some of the young people involved and looked at the wider issue of social deprivation in the New Lodge area of north Belfast.

Mr Mac Dhónaill said: "I've spent more time in chapels and graveyards with these kids than in the youth club.

"They're in grief and trauma. The trauma we've had this year would break many adults, but they're still so positive.

"They continue to engage and continue to be positive and joyous when they've every right in the world to be violent, but they're not."

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Northern Ireland news