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Boy struck down by chemical dumped at Belfast bonfire is taken off ventilator

By Brett Campbell

A nine-year-old boy, who was left critically ill after coming into contact with a toxic substance dumped at a Belfast bonfire site, has been taken off a ventilator.

Cameron Dickson's condition remains serious, but he is now said to be stable.

His father Harry said his son "sniffed" the chemicals after he and his friends were playing on waste ground where there is a small bonfire site.

He said: "They came across barrels of chemicals. They were playing with them as kids do, opened them and poured them out.

"Cameron, unfortunately, was the one who sniffed the liquid. He said there was no smell off it and it looked like water."

However, just hours later he fell ill and was left fighting for his life on Wednesday night in intensive care.

The toxic substance was dumped at a bonfire site at Glenwood Street, close to the Shankill Road in north Belfast. It prompted police and health officials to issue a warning to the public.

Bonfires across the city are now set to be inspected after the nine-year-old almost lost his life.

According to a memo issued to Belfast city councillors, inspections will focus on chemicals that could pose a risk to public safety.

It states that council officers and the police will deploy extra resources to carry out joint visits to all bonfire sites across the city over the coming days "with a view to identifying any visible, immediate or acute chemical public health risks."

Earlier this week PSNI Inspector Laura Kelly urged parents who live in that area to seek medical help if their children display any symptoms including redness of eyes, sore throats, coughing and any problems breathing.

Officers warned it could take up to 36 hours for symptoms to become apparent.

Mr Dickson said he mistakenly believed his son was suffering from a chest infection.

He said he did not realise how ill Cameron was until a family friend pointed out that his symptoms were abnormal.

"I was just being a typical dad - 'he's a boy, he's got a chest infection, everybody gets a bug'."

Mr Dickson paid tribute to their friend for spotting the danger, saying: "Only for her, I honestly believe that we would be burying our son."

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