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Bonfires group has quit council management programme

By Rebecca Black

A community group which represents 14 Eleventh Night bonfires has walked away from a Belfast City Council management programme, it can be revealed.

The Community Culture Forum (CCF) was handed fines totalling £350 after it was found that three of their bonfires - Farmhurst Green, Cregagh Estate and Milltown - had burned flags.

In total, 13 bonfires which took part in the council's bonfire management programme this year received fines.

Most fines related to flags being burned, although two were for burning tyres at Beechnut Road and Hogarth Street and one at Hopewell Crescent for displaying paramilitary trappings.

The Pitt Park Women's Group, which organises the Pitt Park bonfire on the Lower Newtownards Road, has also withdrawn from the programme.

It was fined £250 for burning flags and took the decision to quit several months ago.

The bonfire management programme provides funding to host family-friendly events. Not every bonfire organising committee in Belfast is signed up to it.

CCF represents 14 bonfires across Castlereagh. This was their first summer as part of Belfast City Council.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, two of the leading figures on the committee described how hard they have worked to clean up the bonfires in their area and how far they had come to transform them into family-friendly events.

They said they now felt they were being punished despite having achieved so much, pointing out that the flags were often placed on pyres at the last minute before they were lit by people from outside the area, emphasising that it could be very dangerous to try and remove them.

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