Belfast Telegraph

‘We’ll rebuild burnt-out bonfire’

by Natalie Irvine

A contentious bonfire close to the City Hospital was torched on Sunday night.

Donegall Road residents have vowed to build it “bigger and |better”.

Representatives of the Donegall Road Loyalists (DRL) were out assessing the smouldering mass of wooden pallets on the site outside Belfast City hospital at lunchtime on Monday, July 5.

One of their representatives, who did not want to be named, said: “At 11.15 last night, people came in a black taxi and set the bonfire alight. There is not much left, most of it’s away.

“The fire engines and officers have been out six or seven times now. It keeps catching on fire because we had built it so well.

“All this does is pull the community together, more now than ever. We will be building it bigger and better,” they said defiantly.

“The press has rubbished this bonfire. It’s not intimidating anybody. We have it every year. The cancer hospital isn’t even on this side of the road, it’s on the Lisburn Road. The A&E departments aren’t on this side of the hospital either.”

Another person who said he was representing DRL also said: “We have put up the sign this morning that says ‘God made the world in six days, we will make our bonfire in five’. You better believe it, this bonfire will be even bigger than before, we already have people working on it.”

However, SDLP South Belfast MLA Conall McDevitt has said the bonfire at the hospital gate is a danger to the community and should be moved.

He said he had received a |number of complaints from residents of the Village area who objected to it.

“City Council officials, the Fire and Rescue Service and the Department of Regional Development have been informed of the serious threat this poses to public safety in the mind of local residents,” he said.

“It is essential that we are able to guarantee residents and users of City Hospital safety on the 11th night. This bonfire cannot be considered safe either to residents or to those who may need to access this major hospital.

“I am calling again on those who are building this bonfire to consider the needs and rights of others. Nobody denies their right to celebrate their culture and heritage in a positive way. But with every right comes the responsibility to respect the rights of others.”

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