Belfast Telegraph

Belfast bonfire toxic cloud fears as 100 tyres are piled up to be burnt at Cregagh Estate

By Suzanne Breen

Concerns are growing about potentially dangerous tyres dumped at a bonfire site close to houses in east Belfast.

Around 100 tyres appeared yesterday beside a growing pyre in the Cregagh Estate.

It is the latest in a series of controversial Belfast bonfires, including one outside a city centre hotel and another near houses in Chobham Street on the Comber Greenway.

Politicians last night called for the council to remove the tyres immediately.

Alliance councillor Michael Long said highly toxic fumes would be released if they were burned.

Mr Long said: "If the bonfire builders use this material, they will be putting in jeopardy the health of all who attend their bonfire. It would be an act of absolute stupidity and recklessness.

"They will be exposing their own community to carcinogens.

"Even though it's late at night, there are children who go to bonfires. There will be babies in prams there.

"Burning tyres is an unbelievably daft thing to do.

"These people are polluting their own environment."

Mr Long said loyalists had started to gather material for the pyre in February, four months earlier than in previous years.

It is understood that Belfast City Council has removed material from the site several times this year.

The Alliance councillor said that the bonfire builders had pulled out of the council's bonfire management scheme.

"If they were in the scheme, they could be fined for burning tyres," he said.

"The council must remove these tyres and, if the tyres can be traced, those who dumped them must be prosecuted."

SDLP councillor Declan Boyle said: "Burning tyres is a totally irresponsible act. I can't understand why anyone with an ounce of wit would risk harming themselves and their friends and neighbours. Some people in the Cregagh Estate obviously want the bonfire, but plenty don't and we have to protect them.

"There has been enough faffing around on bonfires. It is time for action.

"Nobody is talking about banning bonfires, but bonfire builders can't be allowed to do what they want, where they want.

"If the rest of us went out into the middle of the street and started burning tyres, the police and a heap of agencies would be down on us like a ton of bricks," he added.

Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers said: "The very idea of tyres on a bonfire makes me angry. The fumes are deadly.

"The police and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency need to be doing more.

"The PSNI must step up their patrols and, if companies are dumping tyres, they must be caught and prosecuted."

Meanwhile, a caravan with a UVF flag and KAT ('Kill All Taigs') painted on it, which appeared at the Comber Greenway bonfire site, was dismantled yesterday and placed on the bonfire.

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