Loyalists considered a bonfire on every corner in response to injunction

The Sandy Row bonfire alongside an apartment block before it was lit on July 11. Picture By: Arthur Allison..

The grand secretary of the Orange Order says loyalists considered building bonfires on ever street corner in response to the legal challenge to pyres on council land in July.

However, the Rev Mervyn Gibson says the decision not to proceed with the protest "reflected well" on his community.

Rev Gibson praised elements within loyalism who helped calm tensions around the July period following a Belfast City Council injunction against four bonfires in Belfast.

At first there were concerns that the injunctions, aimed at controlling bonfires being built on council land, would spark violence among hard line loyalists in the area.

However, the senior Orangeman said the way the situation was handled "reflected well" on the community.

"At one point there was talk of a bonfire on every street corner, that was considered, thankfully they didn't do that but you can see how it could have ended up," he said.

"It's how the court order is interpreted next year that worries me, in that people will now be looking to bring this in across other parts of the province, if that happens they'll not stop bonfires people will just move it off council property.

"We suggested a few years ago, and I think they're looking at it now in a couple of places, about a green area making it a bonfire site that could be used at Christmas and other times of the year to hold community events.

"If it's a site for community use and there were three or for other uses during the year I think that would work.

"I would never disown bonfires, I loved them when I was growing up and they meant as much to me personally then as they do to those young lads now.

"So, it could have easily turned nasty and it didn't, that was a good thing and reflected well on that community", Rev Gibson added.

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