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Mark H Durkan: I'd prefer all bonfires were banned

Published 23/09/2015

Scene of the Eleventh Night bonfire at Chobham Street this year.
Scene of the Eleventh Night bonfire at Chobham Street this year.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has said the cost of bonfires, both to public health and in terms of finance can "no longer be tolerated" and he would prefer they were all banned.

The SDLP minister said it was likely that many bonfires broke the law in some way.

The Foyle MLA admitted he would prefer a total ban, but conceded there were "sensitivities" around the issue.

He has outlined three preferences for dealing with all bonfires.

They include licensing of bonfires, more rigorous enforcement of current legislation and improving on current practice.

Speaking on the BBC's Nolan Show, the politician referenced Loyalist bonfires that have sparked controversy with effigies burnt, tyres placed on them and those that were so big residents' homes had to be protected from the heat.

Minister Durkan said: "My preference - and I know many would share this view - would be that all bonfires are banned.

"While I accept that we need to be sensitive to different cultural needs, in my view we can no longer tolerate the cost that many bonfires inflict - both financial cost and to people's health and environment."

Read more

Bonfire clean-up cost Causeway Coast and Glens Council £17,500  

The minister stressed he was talking about all bonfires and he was not
The minister stressed he was talking about all bonfires and he was not "anti-Protestant". Pic Press Eye.

Minister Durkan said the PSNI also needed to be more involved in tackling problems associated with bonfires.

He added: "This is at an early stage and I hope to discuss my proposals with district councils and the Environment Committee soon.

“I am fully aware bonfires are an emotive issue and their management needs to be approached in a sensitive manner.

"The success of any option will rely heavily on adopting a holistic approach with buy-in and participation from all those involved.

“Most importantly though, I recognise that if the issues around bonfires are to be successfully tackled wide support across the  political and community spectrum.

"I am prepared to take leadership on this and open up the debate"

Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Bonfire builders at Mount Vernon in north Belfast. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Bonfire builders at Mount Vernon in north Belfast. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Bonfire builders at Mount Vernon in north Belfast. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Bonfire builders at Mount Vernon in north Belfast. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Bonfire builders at Mount Vernon in north Belfast. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Bonfire builders at Mount Vernon in north Belfast. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Bonfire builders at Mount Vernon in north Belfast. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
A workman boarding up houses at Chobham Street
Properties near the Chobham Street bonfire are boarded up
A bonfire at Cregagh Park
Bonfires are seen as a loyalist tradition
The bonfire at Ballymacash
Pallets stacked ready to be placed on the structure
There is to be a tightening of regulations regarding old tyres to prevent bonfires
Firefighters at the scene of the Sandy Row bonfire after it was set alight early
Firefighters at the scene of the Sandy Row bonfire after it was set alight early
Sandy Row Bonfire Firefighters extinguish the blaze at the Sandy Row Bonfire. The structure, in the car park of the Days Hotel on Wellwood Street. Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 25/06/2015 Sandy Row Bonfire Firefighters extinguish the blaze at the Sandy Row Bonfire. The structure, in the car park of the Days Hotel on Wellwood Street, was lit on Thursday morning and has now been extinguished. However police remain at the scene where a man in his 30s has been detained as a result of disturbances in the area. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 25/06/2015 Sandy Row Bonfire Firefighters extinguish the blaze at the Sandy Row Bonfire. The structure, in the car park of the Days Hotel on Wellwood Street, was lit on Thursday morning and has now been extinguished. However police remain at the scene where a man in his 30s has been detained as a result of disturbances in the area. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 25/06/2015 Sandy Row Bonfire Firefighters extinguish the blaze at the Sandy Row Bonfire. The structure, in the car park of the Days Hotel on Wellwood Street, was lit on Thursday morning and has now been extinguished. However police remain at the scene where a man in his 30s has been detained as a result of disturbances in the area. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 25/06/2015 Sandy Row Bonfire Firefighters extinguish the blaze at the Sandy Row Bonfire. The structure, in the car park of the Days Hotel on Wellwood Street, was lit on Thursday morning and has now been extinguished. However police remain at the scene where a man in his 30s has been detained as a result of disturbances in the area. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 25/06/2015 Sandy Row Bonfire Firefighters extinguish the blaze at the Sandy Row Bonfire. The structure, in the car park of the Days Hotel on Wellwood Street, was lit on Thursday morning and has now been extinguished. However police remain at the scene where a man in his 30s has been detained as a result of disturbances in the area. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 25/06/2015 Sandy Row Bonfire Firefighters extinguish the blaze at the Sandy Row Bonfire. The structure, in the car park of the Days Hotel on Wellwood Street, was lit on Thursday morning and has now been extinguished. However police remain at the scene where a man in his 30s has been detained as a result of disturbances in the area. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 25/06/2015 Sandy Row Bonfire Firefighters extinguish the blaze at the Sandy Row Bonfire. The structure, in the car park of the Days Hotel on Wellwood Street, was lit on Thursday morning and has now been extinguished. However police remain at the scene where a man in his 30s has been detained as a result of disturbances in the area. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 25/06/2015 Sandy Row Bonfire Firefighters extinguish the blaze at the Sandy Row Bonfire. The structure, in the car park of the Days Hotel on Wellwood Street, was lit on Thursday morning and has now been extinguished. However police remain at the scene where a man in his 30s has been detained as a result of disturbances in the area. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 25/06/2015 Sandy Row Bonfire Firefighters extinguish the blaze at the Sandy Row Bonfire. The structure, in the car park of the Days Hotel on Wellwood Street, was lit on Thursday morning and has now been extinguished. However police remain at the scene where a man in his 30s has been detained as a result of disturbances in the area. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 25/06/2015 Sandy Row Bonfire Firefighters extinguish the blaze at the Sandy Row Bonfire. The structure, in the car park of the Days Hotel on Wellwood Street, was lit on Thursday morning and has now been extinguished. However police remain at the scene where a man in his 30s has been detained as a result of disturbances in the area. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye AWARD-WINNING Belfast restaurant, Tedfords on Donegall Quay, is set to open a second restaurant in the city centre in the next two weeks, creating 20 new jobs. Owned and managed by husband and wife team, Alan and Sharon Foster, over ¬£250,000 has been invested in TedfordsÄô Kitchen, which is scheduled to open at the beginning of July and is situated at No. 1 Lanyon Quay. Pictured L Äì R are Colin Angus, Facilities Manager and Cormac Artt, Head of Design from Richmond Interiors & Fit Out with TedfordsÄô Kitchen Proprietor & Group Head Chef, Alan Foster ¬and Co-Proprietor, Sharon Foster
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye AWARD-WINNING Belfast restaurant, Tedfords on Donegall Quay, is set to open a second restaurant in the city centre in the next two weeks, creating 20 new jobs. Owned and managed by husband and wife team, Alan and Sharon Foster, over ¬£250,000 has been invested in TedfordsÄô Kitchen, which is scheduled to open at the beginning of July and is situated at No. 1 Lanyon Quay. Pictured L Äì R are Colin Angus, Facilities Manager and Cormac Artt, Head of Design from Richmond Interiors & Fit Out with TedfordsÄô Kitchen Proprietor & Group Head Chef, Alan Foster ¬and Co-Proprietor, Sharon Foster
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye AWARD-WINNING Belfast restaurant, Tedfords on Donegall Quay, is set to open a second restaurant in the city centre in the next two weeks, creating 20 new jobs. Owned and managed by husband and wife team, Alan and Sharon Foster, over ¬£250,000 has been invested in TedfordsÄô Kitchen, which is scheduled to open at the beginning of July and is situated at No. 1 Lanyon Quay. Pictured L Äì R are Colin Angus, Facilities Manager and Cormac Artt, Head of Design from Richmond Interiors & Fit Out with TedfordsÄô Kitchen Proprietor & Group Head Chef, Alan Foster ¬and Co-Proprietor, Sharon Foster
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye AWARD-WINNING Belfast restaurant, Tedfords on Donegall Quay, is set to open a second restaurant in the city centre in the next two weeks, creating 20 new jobs. Owned and managed by husband and wife team, Alan and Sharon Foster, over ¬£250,000 has been invested in TedfordsÄô Kitchen, which is scheduled to open at the beginning of July and is situated at No. 1 Lanyon Quay. Pictured L Äì R are Colin Angus, Facilities Manager and Cormac Artt, Head of Design from Richmond Interiors & Fit Out with TedfordsÄô Kitchen Proprietor & Group Head Chef, Alan Foster ¬and Co-Proprietor, Sharon Foster
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye AWARD-WINNING Belfast restaurant, Tedfords on Donegall Quay, is set to open a second restaurant in the city centre in the next two weeks, creating 20 new jobs. Owned and managed by husband and wife team, Alan and Sharon Foster, over ¬£250,000 has been invested in TedfordsÄô Kitchen, which is scheduled to open at the beginning of July and is situated at No. 1 Lanyon Quay. Pictured L Äì R are Colin Angus, Facilities Manager and Cormac Artt, Head of Design from Richmond Interiors & Fit Out with TedfordsÄô Kitchen Proprietor & Group Head Chef, Alan Foster ¬and Co-Proprietor, Sharon Foster
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye AWARD-WINNING Belfast restaurant, Tedfords on Donegall Quay, is set to open a second restaurant in the city centre in the next two weeks, creating 20 new jobs. Owned and managed by husband and wife team, Alan and Sharon Foster, over ¬£250,000 has been invested in TedfordsÄô Kitchen, which is scheduled to open at the beginning of July and is situated at No. 1 Lanyon Quay. Pictured L Äì R are Colin Angus, Facilities Manager and Cormac Artt, Head of Design from Richmond Interiors & Fit Out with TedfordsÄô Kitchen Proprietor & Group Head Chef, Alan Foster ¬and Co-Proprietor, Sharon Foster
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye AWARD-WINNING Belfast restaurant, Tedfords on Donegall Quay, is set to open a second restaurant in the city centre in the next two weeks, creating 20 new jobs. Owned and managed by husband and wife team, Alan and Sharon Foster, over ¬£250,000 has been invested in TedfordsÄô Kitchen, which is scheduled to open at the beginning of July and is situated at No. 1 Lanyon Quay. Pictured L Äì R are Colin Angus, Facilities Manager and Cormac Artt, Head of Design from Richmond Interiors & Fit Out with TedfordsÄô Kitchen Proprietor & Group Head Chef, Alan Foster ¬and Co-Proprietor, Sharon Foster
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye AWARD-WINNING Belfast restaurant, Tedfords on Donegall Quay, is set to open a second restaurant in the city centre in the next two weeks, creating 20 new jobs. Owned and managed by husband and wife team, Alan and Sharon Foster, over ¬£250,000 has been invested in TedfordsÄô Kitchen, which is scheduled to open at the beginning of July and is situated at No. 1 Lanyon Quay. Pictured L Äì R are Colin Angus, Facilities Manager and Cormac Artt, Head of Design from Richmond Interiors & Fit Out with TedfordsÄô Kitchen Proprietor & Group Head Chef, Alan Foster ¬and Co-Proprietor, Sharon Foster
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye AWARD-WINNING Belfast restaurant, Tedfords on Donegall Quay, is set to open a second restaurant in the city centre in the next two weeks, creating 20 new jobs. Owned and managed by husband and wife team, Alan and Sharon Foster, over ¬£250,000 has been invested in TedfordsÄô Kitchen, which is scheduled to open at the beginning of July and is situated at No. 1 Lanyon Quay. Pictured L Äì R are Colin Angus, Facilities Manager and Cormac Artt, Head of Design from Richmond Interiors & Fit Out with TedfordsÄô Kitchen Proprietor & Group Head Chef, Alan Foster ¬and Co-Proprietor, Sharon Foster
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Belfast - Northern Ireland - Thursday 25th June 2015 - Sandy Row Bonfire Pictured is firefighters at the scene of the Sandyrow bonfire as it was set alight early on Thursday Morning Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
The bonfire at Sandy Row has been set alight early. Pic Twitter/StephenMcVey/BBC
Tyres surrounding the bonfire at New Mossley

The minister said dialogue and enforcement would be key to success in the matter and that he would "hope" there could be an improvement for next year.

"But I can't guarantee anything," he said.

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