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Row over pyre beside new play park sparks claims of SF 'stirring'

By Amanda Ferguson

Published 26/06/2015

A Unionist MLA has accused Sinn Fein of "stirring up" the community in Dundrum in Co Down to complain about a controversial bonfire.

This comes after fears have been raised that the heat from a huge 11th Night bonfire in the village will destroy a new children's play park and possibly endanger lives.

The play area, around 50 yards from the bonfire, opened seven months ago in De Courcey Way.

One man told Radio Ulster's Nolan show the bonfire should be moved to a "safe, responsible place".

Unionist residents claim they have permission from the local council to stage the bonfire and have been advised by fire marshals that if they move it a few yards away from the play park it will be safe.

An online appeal calling for the bonfire to be relocated has attracted more than 200 signatures in the picturesque seaside village.

DUP MLA Jim Wells told the Belfast Telegraph he fully supported the right of the unionist community to have their "well-organised traditional bonfire".

The former Health Minister said: "The bonfire has been there for 45 years, more than some of the people complaining have been alive.

"An attempt was made previously to move it to the beach but local nationalist youths set fire to it long before the 11th Night.

"Every year we have these complaints and they come to nothing."

He said some people were intent on making mischief under the guise of safety.

"Some people have genuine concerns, but some don't want the unionist, Protestant population of Dundrum to celebrate their culture," he said.

"The community is stirred up by Sinn Fein."

Sinn Fein MLA Chris Hazzard said: "This is not about removing the bonfire for the sake of it. 

“We are content for local people to celebrate on the 11th night, but this must be somewhere other than on top of a brand new play park in the middle of a mixed housing estate. 

"Sinn Féin will continue to work on behalf of residents in DeCourcy Way who want to facilitate the relocation of the bonfire to a suitable and agreeable location.

"I would stress the importance of dialogue between all sides to reach a solution that cherishes both the cultural celebration of the Twelfth but also the rights of those residents living in DeCourcy Way."

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