Northern Ireland

Toxic fumes fear over tyres on Antrim bonfires

Tyres on a Bonfire in The Steeple estate area of Antrim.
Tyres on a bonfire in The Steeple estate area of Antrim

Concerns have been raised after tyres were piled onto two separate bonfires in Antrim.

One has been put up on land at Rathkyle at Stiles and contains hundreds of tyres while concern has also been expressed about the presence of tyres at the Steeple bonfire in the Mallusk Gardens area.

Sinn Féin South Antrim MLA Declan Kearney said he was disappointed at the appearance of the tyres which residents in the “shared space” were opposed to.

“It began with posters asserting only locals should be accommodated in the social housing being built,” he said.

“All of these are locations which are shared space, where the community either lives or congregates on an integrated basis.”

Tyres on a Bonfire in The Steeple estate area of Antrim.
Tyres on a Bonfire in The Steeple estate area of Antrim.

“There has been a collection of toxic, flammable, hazardous materials, which will be built into these bonfires. All of this has been and done with complete impunity.”

Mr Kearney said he spoke to the PSNI on Wednesday about its Eleventh evening and overnight plans.

“We want to ensure the correct deployment of resources and police presence to deter hate crime or the burning of materials, be they flammable, hazardous or causing environmental breaches, as well as incidents of offence and hatred being directed towards other sections of the community.”

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said it was “fully committed” to taking appropriate action in relation to any failure by bonfire organisers to comply with the terms and conditions of the Bonfire Management Plan, “which may, subject to council agreement, “include a loss of funding associated with bonfire events in the future”.

It also said that the Steeple bonfire site “was never signed up” to the council’s 2024 Bonfire Management Programme of which 23 bonfire sites are included.

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said it did not give approval for bonfires to be built on its land.

Tyres on a Bonfire in The Steeple estate area of Antrim.
Tyres on a Bonfire in The Steeple estate area of Antrim.

“We’re aware of a number of tyres dumped at Mallusk Gardens in Antrim,” a spokesperson said.

“When dealing with potential bonfires on our land, we work with all relevant agencies, elected representatives and the community and take steps to reduce any risks in so far as we reasonably can.

“We will continue to liaise with all interested parties to find a resolution.”

The NI Environment Agency said it had also received a report in relation to the bonfire at Mallusk Gardens.

It added: “An incident has been opened and the Agency’s Economic Crime Unit is engaging with partner organisations and elected members.

“Where sufficient evidence is available ECU will continue to conduct criminal investigations in pursuit of offenders responsible for the depositing of the waste at bonfire sites.”

Fountain Hill estate
Graffiti sprayed onto the walls of a new housing development in Antrim. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN

PSNI District Commander Darren Fox said: “We will continue to engage with statutory partners who have responsibility for their property and those who have influence within the local community, to ensure that members of the public and residents are kept safe.”