Call for dialogue over safer bonfires after homes gutted
There has been a call for greater dialogue around loyalist bonfires following the destruction of three houses in the Shankill estate on the Eleventh Night.
Lily Turtle (72) had to be rescued from her blazing home on Hopewell Square after sparks set her roof on fire.
She had been asleep in bed with her two-year-old great-granddaughter at the time.
Two neighbouring homes were also set alight and gutted by the sparks from the bonfire, which was positioned a mere 50 metres away from the row of terrace houses.
SDLP councillor Patrick Convery said that there should be more discussion surrounding bonfires and their sites to "ensure safety and respect for all citizens and their property".
"The fire in the Shankill area after the annual bonfire was a serious event and we must all recognise that families have lost their homes," he said.
"The trauma of such events is immeasurable for those involved.
"I would appeal for elected representatives in both the council and the Assembly to start an immediate dialogue to agree on a new way of dealing with this issue that respects residents and property.
"We must create a strategy that deals with the numbers of structures, their location in relation to homes, parks and other facilities, and the hazardous materials burned every year.
"The health and wellbeing of all our citizens and the safety of their property must be our priority.
"There can be no acceptable reason to continue putting lives or property at risk."