Northern Ireland news

Construction of controversial Derry bonfire gets underway

A large number of wooden pallets were moved to a street adjacent to the expected site of the Bogside bonfire yesterday, Friday afternoon. Picture: Facebook.
Seamus McKinney

The construction of a controversial bonfire in Derry's Bogside got underway last night ahead of the structure being lit on Sunday.

The bonfire, which marks the Catholic feast of the Assumption of Mary, is expected to be lit on a newly cleared construction site at Lecky Road at 11pm tomorrow.

The August 15 bonfire is often seen as a counter to loyalist bonfires marking the Apprentice Boys' Relief of Derry commemoration which is taking place on a scaled-down level today.

While the build-up to this year's Bogside bonfire has been significantly low-key, the bonfire has proved controversial in the past. In 2019, there was widespread criticism when the names of murdered police and prison officers were placed on the structure.

In the weeks leading up to this year's bonfire, material was stored away from the site following negotiations with local community groups in an effort to minimise disruption. However, a large number of wooden pallets was gathered beside the site yesterday as construction workers removed the last remains of the buildings – including the Bogside Inn – which once stood there.

Organisers, who have previously styled themselves as Bogside Republican Youth, stood by the site while they waited for the construction workers to finish work last night.

Derry independent councillor, Gary Donnelly said that while he was opposed to the concept of bonfires, he was pleased that the build-up to this year's August 15 event had not included any of the angry exchanges which accompanied past events.

“I see nothing positive in bonfires but I would hope no-one does or says anything in the last few days to increase tensions around Sunday's bonfire,” Mr Donnelly said.

The Bogside structure is one of a number of August 15 bonfires which have been put in place in Derry in recent days. Separate structures have been built in Creggan and Galliagh.

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