Northern Ireland

Still no decision on bonfire management by Mid and East Antrim Borough a year on

Craigyhill bonfire in Larne, Co. Antrim in July 2023 PICTURE: Liam McBurney/PA Wire (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has failed to make a decision on bonfire management a year after being first told to agree a way forward.

Minutes from a behind closed doors meeting say that meetings have been taking place between interim chief executive Valerie Watts and community groups.

DUP councillor Andrew Clarke proposed the issue should be further deferred to enable the interim chief executive to “provide feedback on community engagement”.

Bonfire management has been highlighted in Mid and East Antrim following the death of Larne man John Steele after a fall from the Antiville bonfire in the town in July 2022.

Mr Steele, who was a father-of-two, died while helping with the building of the bonfire. No bonfire was constructed on this site last July.

The issue of bonfire management was first placed on the council’s agenda in January 2023. It is understood that legal recommendations have been provided to councillors.

John Steele who fell to his death from a loyalist bonfire
John Steele who fell to his death from a loyalist bonfire

It was further postponed last February, March and April and not listed for a full council meeting in June as agreed. A special meeting was held later that month but no decision was reached and the matter was further postponed until September.

Minutes from last month’s council meeting also stated: “The corporate solicitor provided clarification on progress made in relation to this complex issue, on the legal advice already provided and protection afforded to council by the proposed measures.”

The local authority has said previously it “works closely with relevant statutory partners and the community in relation to bonfires throughout the area”.