Northern Ireland news

Pressure mounting on authorities to dismantle interface bonfire

The peaceline in north Belfast is coming under close scrutiny
Staff Reporter

PRESSURE is mounting on authorities to take action to dismantle an interface bonfire - after the removal of another contentious pyre.

Contractors supported by police swept in at around 2am yesterday to take down the Eleventh Night bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in east Belfast.

The move appears to indicate that further action will soon follow elsewhere in the city.

A site in north Belfast is now under the spotlight.

The SDLP has said it is "adamant" there cannot be a bonfire at an interface on land under the responsibility of Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.

During a meeting of the Policing Board, Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly raised the issue of it being built close to the peace line at Duncairn Gardens, between the New Lodge and Tiger's Bay areas.

The bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway has been removed

He claimed it has been used as a platform to throw golf balls from the loyalist side of the divide towards nationalist homes, in some cases breaking windows or damaging cars.

His party colleague, councillor JJ Magee has urged the PSNI to act to "put an end to anti-social behaviour" at the site at Adam Street.

He called for the bonfire to be moved away from its location, which he said was aimed at raising community tension.

"There have been disturbances, homes attacked and windows broken and residents who live on the interface are living in fear," he said.

"The bonfire has become a magnet for anti-social behaviour and now on top of the attacks and intimidation loud music is being played and crowds are gathering late into the night.

"The behaviours associated with this bonfire is not culture, has nothing to do with culture and the crime and anti-social behaviour emanating from this must be tackled."

It is believed to be one of three major bonfires sites the PSNI said were causing concern.

Bloomfield Walkway was another of those, while the third is understood to be one built close to a fire station in Newtownards.

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

Police cannot remove bonfires but can facilitate contractors employed by landowners to dismantle them. So far, the education body that owns the site in Newtownards has said it has "no plans" to dismantle the bonfire.

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