Northern Ireland news

'No plans' to dismantle bonfire near Newtownards fire station built without landowner's permission

A bonfire has been built close to a fire station in Newtownards, Co Down. Picture by Pacemaker

THE education body which owns the site of an unauthorised bonfire built close to Newtownards fire station has said it has "no plans" to dismantle it.

There are fears that the large bonfire poses a risk to life and property and will impede firefighters on duty.

The bonfire site, in the grounds of the former Castle Gardens PS, is owned by the Education Authority (EA).

Police cannot remove contentious bonfires but they can facilitate contractors employed by landowners to dismantle them.

The Fire & Rescue Service said it is continuing to monitor the situation.

The Eleventh Night, when bonfires are usually lit, is one of the busiest nights of the year for fire crews.

The EA told The Irish News yesterday it "has no plans at this stage to dismantle the bonfire".

"EA continues to work with Community Officers in Ards and North Down Borough Council and with the PSNI's Neighbourhood Policing Team to achieve the best outcome for the local community," a spokesman said.

The EA previously confirmed that the bonfire was built without its permission.

A spokeswoman said: "We remain neutral on such cultural festivals and can confirm that the construction of this bonfire is without consent."

In the past, other bonfires deemed to threaten life and/or property have been removed a few days before the Eleventh Night.

The PSNI said on Thursday that up to three major bonfire sites are "causing concern".

It is understood one of those includes the Newtownards bonfire, as well as one built close to a peace line at Duncairn Gardens, between the New Lodge and Tigers Bay areas of north Belfast.

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Northern Ireland news