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Ballymacash residents 'feeling intimidated' as Lisburn bonfire grows in size

By Rebecca Black

Locals say they are living in fear of a huge loyalist bonfire in Lisburn.

The Belfast Telegraph was contacted by a householder who lives close to the site of the structure at Ballymacash who was concerned that it is significantly higher than last year.

The resident is recovering from a serious illness and said they and their neighbours felt intimidated by the massive pyre, adding that a row of seven pensioners' houses are even closer to bonfire.

"It's just awful. There are young guys manning it 24/7, when we go to bed at night we can hear bangs from the building work, They have even got a cherry-picker to build it even higher," she said. "Last year's was big but this one is enormous. All the neighbours are worried.

"There was an attempt by someone to set it alight and now there is a sign up saying 'We are watching you', and people guarding it all the time, which has added to how uncomfortable we, the local residents, feel."

The resident said a relative came from England to visit recently and could not believe what was going on.

"If I lived in England or anywhere else something would be able to get done about this, but because this is Northern Ireland I know nothing will be done about it," they said

Last year the bonfire at New Mossley, Co Antrim, was believed to have been one of the biggest ever built, and was nicknamed 'The Beast'.

There was controversy about the Ballymacash pyre last year after it collapsed while burning.

A spokeswoman for Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council said it had not received any complaints about the bonfire, but said the land it is on belongs to the Housing Executive. A spokeswoman for the Housing Executive said it had not received any complaints about the Ballymacash bonfire.

"Bonfires are traditional events and we encourage groups to engage with us through our bonfire management programme," she said.

"We work closely with the local community and staff are working in partnership with other agencies to manage the site's safety. We are in contact with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and will take advice on implementing any measures they feel is necessary."

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