Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Towering Twelfth bonfire in Ballyduff estate to be dismantled and downsized over safety fears

A bonfire in the Ballyduff estate in Newtownabbey during the run-up to the July 12 parades
A bonfire in the Ballyduff estate in Newtownabbey during the run-up to the July 12 parades
A bonfire in the Ballyduff estate in Newtownabbey during the run-up to the July 12 parades
A bonfire in the Ballyduff estate in Newtownabbey during the run-up to the July 12 parades
Boys prepare the bonfire on the Shankill Road

A controversial bonfire that led to major safety concerns is to be taken down.

At 66ft high and made up of thousands of pallets and tyres, this monster bonfire has now been branded too big to light.

The massive 66ft-high structure, nicknamed ‘The Beast’, was built using thousands of wooden pallets and car tyres in the loyalist Ballyduff estate in Newtownabbey.

The bonfire, erected on Housing Executive land, will now be relocated to another site and reduced in size.

Residents living close to the huge pyre had spoken of their fears about the impact the structure — which was twice the size of nearby houses — would have on properties when set alight on July 11.

During a multi-agency meeting yesterday it was agreed to take the bonfire down.

It is understood representatives from Newtownabbey Borough Council and the Housing Executive attended the meeting.

A date for the work has yet to be confirmed but it is hoped it will begin within days.

One Ballyduff resident, who did not want to be named, told the Belfast Telegraph it was the “best possible outcome”.

He said: “It wasn’t a case of anyone taking a side or winning this. It was just to try and find a good solution for everyone which was achieved. It will be on a smaller scale, without the tyres, and not in front of anyone’s house. At this late stage in the game we know we couldn’t get a new permanent site but as a solution at the minute this is the best outcome we could ask for — for everyone.

“Credit where credit is due to the bonfire collectors for listening to us.”

A meeting involving residents and statutory agencies is scheduled to take place in September to begin a process to find a permanent site for the bonfire.

Loyalist community worker Phil Hamiliton described it as a “positive move”. He said: “The bonfire collectors agreed to downsize as per Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service advice and guidelines.

“I would like to think by the end of the week there will be some movement on the issue.

“This was about the community settling the issue and this is a very positive outcome.”

Environment Minister Alex Attwood welcomed the development.

He added: “To help all of this was one of the reasons why I made an offer to use my powers and deploy DoE resources.

“I have informed the council that my offer stands and will work with the council on all of this.”

- VICTORIA O’HARA

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