Belfast Telegraph

Bonfire anger: Sandy Row residents in uproar over pallets loss

 

By Christine Carrigan

On Belfast's Sandy Row there was anger and disbelief as news spread that pallets for an Eleventh Night bonfire in the area were missing.

Many locals were insistent that Belfast City Council should replace the materials. The council recently removed pallets from two contentious bonfire sites, one near Chobham Street in east Belfast and the other beside the Holiday Inn in Sandy Row, following public safety concerns.

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The pallets were due to be returned to bonfire builders in the run-up to the Eleventh Night.

When the Belfast Telegraph visited Sandy Row yesterday, people spoke of their fury.

John McDonnell (53) described his disbelief, adding: "Three thousand pallets? How did no one see that happening? The council should be held responsible."

Sandy Row shop owner Willie Faulkner (70) had set out a collection box in his shop to raise funds for new pallets. He said: "The council were supposed to store them and give them back and, yes, the community in general is angry.

"People who come into the shop are saddened about it. We think that the council should replace them."

Diane Audley (48) said: "I am very disappointed because the kids have been out collecting for it, they look forward to this time of year."

Expressing concerns about the bonfire potentially not going ahead, Diane added: "They are going to be rushing about trying to get it collected again."

Tammy Hutton (31), who is a full-time mum, expressed her disgust at what had happened.

"I am disgusted that those boys have been out collecting these pallets and they have been taken from them," she said. "The bonfire probably won't be ready in time now unless the boys buy more pallets. They took them on an agreement that they would be bringing them back."

Robert Gibson (60) said: "I can't get over it, 3,000 pallets. It is really going to set them back." Another angry resident said the city council needed to be held accountable.

He said: "We let the council take those pallets in good faith that they would be returned and now this has happened. Why bother listening to them in the first place, if they let this happen?'

Many residents called for the council to provide compensation for the loss. A local resident said: "They should, for the pallets have been stolen under their watch."

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