Irish News 'banned' from taking photographs at loyalist bonfire site

A sign beside the bonfire material left at Milltown Hill in south Belfast. Picture by Ann McManus.

SIGNAGE at a loyalist bonfire site at the centre of an "intimidation row" has appeared stating the Irish News is "not welcome" - and will be "charged" £10 to take a photograph.

The development comes just days after it emerged officials had been blocked from clearing materials.

The Irish News revealed last Thursday that workers from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) were "approached" and told to leave the area after they had previously removed tree cuttings and old furniture.

Freshly painted signs appeared directly outside the bonfire site close to Shaw's Bridge at the weekend, signalling a ban against the newspaper as well as "£100 charges per story".

Complaints about fly-tipping had led to the DfI - who own the land - to intervene.

"The department is currently liaising with the PSNI and other statutory partners to determine the best way to manage this site going forward," a spokeswoman said last week.

The SDLP's Donal Lyons said residents have raised concerns with him about bonfire materials being gathered three months in advance of the Eleventh Night.

Safety concerns have been raised about the towering pyre in the past, including police previously cordoning off the road due to fears it could collapse.

"There have been long-standing issues with the Milltown bonfire but the intimidation of public workers is a sinister new development. I expect all the parties will rightfully condemn this behaviour," Mr Lyons said.

"As well as the environmental impact of the piles of scrap, the pallets are blocking footpaths and forcing young kids, people with buggies, and the elderly onto one of Belfast's busiest roads.

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