Bonfire organisers fined for burning tyres and tricolours
Bonfire organisers are being fined hundreds of pounds for burning Irish tricolours and tyres.
Belfast City Council's Good Relations Partnership heard that 13 bonfires in Belfast have been fined for breaching guidelines.
Pitt Park in east Belfast received the biggest fine of £250 for burning flags or emblems.
The Cregagh estate pyre and Beechfield Street in Oldpark received the next biggest fines, £200 each for burning flags or emblems and one of the biggest city centre bonfires, at the Days Hotel car park, was fined £150 for the same offence.
Ten of the 13 bonfires were fined for burning flags or emblems, two for burning tyres or other toxic materials and one has been fined for displaying paramilitary trappings.
Bonfires on Beechnut Street (£200) and Hogarth Street in Tigers Bay (£50) were fined for burining hazardous materials. The bonfire on Denmark Street in the lower Shankill has been fined £75 for displaying paramilitary trappings.
Bonfire organisers may appeal the fines.
These groups were all participants in the council's Bonfire Management Programme, in which grants for family-friendly events are obtainable.
A spokesperson for the CCF, which organised nine bonfires across Belfast, said it was initially fined for five of them, but following an appeal that number had been reduced to three.
Good Relations Partnership chairman, Councillor John Kyle (PUP), said he felt overall adherance to the guidelines was good or very good at most of the bonfires.
"It is more straightforward to deal with tyres in that they shouldn't be incorporated into bonfires and it is reasonably straightforward to remove," he said. "Flags pose a difficult problem. The large majority of people agree that it is inappropriate to burn flags on bonfires, but it can be difficult on the night when they are placed on bonfires just before they are lit by people who may not be from the area and may not have been involved in building the bonfires. Once they are placed on the bonfire, it is difficult to remove them and may prove hazardous.
"All in all, I felt the Bonfire Management Programme went well this year and in the majority of places the guidelines were not infringed. In cases where they were infringed it was thought there needed to be some sort of penalty applied.
"We tried to do that with as much recognition of the difficult circumstances in which some bonfires took place."
Speaking in a personal capacity, Mr Kyle added: "We don't need to denigrate other people's culture to celebrate our own. That is the general feeling but there is a long tradition of burning tricolours on bonfires and we are in the process of saying is this necessary and there are other ways of celebrating culture without having to denigrate another's culture."