Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Ballyduff 'Beast' bonfire bonfire taken down and moved over safety fears

The bonfire in Ballyduff
The bonfire in Ballyduff
The new bonfire in Ballyduff
The new bonfire in Ballyduff
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The controversial 'Ballyduff Beast' bonfire has been removed and is being rebuilt at a new site nearby.

The original 66ft pyre was deemed a major safety risk on the Newtownabbey housing estate and it was decided it should be shifted.

The monster construction was almost twice the size of nearby houses and less than 100 yards from some garden gates, which prompted concerned residents to raise the alarm.

They residents feared the 'beast', which was on Housing Executive land, was too large and too close to houses, and when lit could cause damage to their homes. To address those fears, a multi-agency meeting was held with representatives from the Housing Executive, Newtownabbey Borough Council, residents and police in attendance.

UUP councillor John Scott told the Belfast Telegraph: "It was the chance for everyone to air their views.

"It was the decision of the bonfire collectors to dismantle it.

"They listened to the residents," he explained. Environment Minister Alex Attwood said at the time: "To help all of this was one of the reasons why I made an offer to use my powers and deploy Department of the Environment resources."

Collection for the huge build began last September.

It was made up of thousands of car tyres and wooden pallets and took several days to take down, during which residents supplied collectors with a steady stream of cups of tea.

Mr Scott said: "It was a very positive message which came from the whole community."

Loyalist community worker Phil Hamilton said: "This was about the community settling the issue and this is a very positive outcome."

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said: "Credit where credit is due to the bonfire collectors for listening to us."

The collectors agreed to relocate and rebuild the bonfire in accordance with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service advice and guidelines and began dismantling the structure last Thursday morning.

Mr Attwood said of the development: "I always welcome local dialogue which, in this case, has resulted in a positive outcome for the Ballyduff community.

"I wish to encourage all those involved in issues of this nature to embrace local dialogue as the best way forward and to show the good leadership in resolving these issues, as has been the case here," he added.

The rebuild is well under way and it is understood the bonfire will not be as high as it was previously.

It has also been nicknamed as 'the beast's little sister' by locals.

It is also around 50-60 yards from the original site, which Mr Scott said "makes a big difference".

Car tyres are no longer included in the body of the bonfire and it now does not pose a risk to any homes.

There are plans for future consultation in August between the residents and statutory agencies to try and find a permanent and safe site for the bonfire.

Mr Scott added that the current location is where people would like to have it, "but it's on a slight slope".

The council hopes the newly assembled bonfire will be completed by the end of the week.

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