Northern Ireland news


Loyalist bonfire builders claim Catholics are helping to construct huge Eleventh Night pyre in Co Antrim

Craigyhill bonfire in Larne. Picture by Hugh Russell
Connla Young

LOYALIST bonfire builders have claimed that Catholics are helping to construct a huge Eleventh Night pyre in Co Antrim as fresh concerns were raised over safety and the potential for rising tensions.

Craigyhill bonfire in Larne is set to double in size in the coming days as those behind the monster pyre aim to smash a height record.

Already towering at around 100ft, those involved in the construction say they need to reach more than 198.5ft to beat the previous mark.

There was controversy last year when the massive pallet pyre collapsed after being set alight.

Sinn Féin councillor James McKeown last night said concerns have been raised by residents from both sides of the community about the pyre, including its proximity to a children's play park.

He said "health and safety should be paramount" and there were also fears around "the potential for anti-social behaviour and the heightening of tensions in the area".

While the sight of bonfire builders perched on small platforms built onto the side of the pyre has also raised concerns, a spokesman for the bonfire builders said "health and safety is the number one priority".

He said organisers were trying to make the event "open to everybody" and claimed Catholics were helping to build the bonfire and also sit on the organising committee.

"They just enjoy it because there's nothing sectarian, it's about building a bonfire," he said.

The spokesman said no flags or election posters will be placed on the bonfire.

Northern Ireland news