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Government urges more effective dialogue around bonfires

Published 13/07/2016

An bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn
An bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn

The Government has urged more effective dialogue around bonfires.

A Belfast pensioner and a family were left homeless after embers from an Eleventh night blaze near the Shankill Road set fire to a row of terraced houses.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said: "This, together with burning of flags and election posters at certain bonfires, as well as the environmental damage caused by burning tyres, is a reminder of the need for effective dialogue around bonfires - so that this important cultural expression can be enjoyed by all."

Mr Flanagan said a new commission on identity and tradition established as part of Stormont's Fresh Start Agreement should consider the issue.

A senior police officer has defended his force's handling of a practice lauded by some as cultural expression but condemned by others as sectarian.

Police Service of Northern Ireland assistant chief constable Stephen Martin responded to criticism that the organisation failed to act against potential law breakers and called f or a collective approach to tackling the annual problem.

He said: "The best way to improve the situation is through consultation; through dialogue and through partnership between the police, the other agencies, political and civic leaders and, critically, communities must be at the heart of this."

More than 300 bonfires were lit on Monday night, kick-starting the annual Twelfth of July celebrations.

Two terraced houses in the Shankill area of west Belfast were destroyed and another was badly damaged after embers blew on to the roofs, causing a fire.

There was also controversy around the burning of tyres, election posters and Irish tricolours while the height and location of some of the towering structures caused outrage in some areas, with at least one bonfire being built close to a new children's play park in east Belfast.

A house catches fire at the Lower Shankill bonfire as it is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A house catches fire at the Lower Shankill bonfire as it is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A house catches fire at the Lower Shankill bonfire as it is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A man dampens down a building as a bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A man dampens down a building as a bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A man uses petrol to light a bonfire on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
Bonfire at Tennent Street in west Belfast. 11th July 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Highfield Estate bonfire in west Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Bonfire at Tennent Street in west Belfast. 11th July 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Bonfire at Tennent Street in west Belfast. 11th July 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Eleventh night bonfire in the Highfield Estate in west Belfast July 11 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Eleventh night bonfire in the Highfield Estate in west Belfast July 11 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Eleventh night bonfire in the Highfield Estate in west Belfast July 11 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Eleventh night bonfire in the Highfield Estate in west Belfast July 11 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
A huge bonfire in Tigers Bay area of Belfast before it is lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
An 11th Night bonfire at Edgarstown, Portadown, covered in at leat 30 Sinn Fein and SDLP election posters. This follows a complaint to police about another bonfire in Portadown's Corcrain Estate as a hate crime by Sinn Fein.
A huge bonfire in Tigers Bay area of Belfast before it is lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A huge bonfire in Tigers Bay area of Belfast before it is lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
Loyalists climb up one of the largest 11th night Bonfires with Irish tricolour flags in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Two women take photographs of one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. AFP/Getty Images
Children atop the huge bonfire in Sandy Row, Belfast with a banner displaying an offensive message directed at SDLP MLA Clare Hanna. PA
Loyalists gesture at the foot of one of the largest 11th night Bonfires after raising Irish tricolour flags in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Loyalists gesture from the top of one of the largest 11th night Bonfires after raising Irish tricolour flags in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A youth balances on a fence as Union flags flutter in the breeze beside one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Loyalists climb up one of the largest 11th night Bonfires with Irish tricolour flags in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A youth balances on a fence beside one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A youth balances on a fence as Union flags flutter in the breeze beside one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Foreign tourists take a tour past one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A man climbs up one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A woman steps out of a taxi to take a photograph of one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalists make final preparations to their bonfire on the Newtownards road on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A woman walks past tables stacked with sweets, fizzy drinks and crisps as Loyalists make final preparations to their bonfire on the Newtownards road on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalists make final preparations to their bonfire on the Newtownards road on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A Loyalist poses for a drone as he is filmed making final preparations to a huge bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Ballymacash bonfire is reported as the largest bonfire construct in the province. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalist Peter Stenhouse carries a wooden pallet as he makes final preparations to a bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A Loyalist poses for a drone as he is filmed making final preparations to a huge bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Ballymacash bonfire is reported as the largest bonfire construct in the province. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A Loyalist poses for a drone as he is filmed making final preparations to a huge bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Ballymacash bonfire is reported as the largest bonfire construct in the province. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A Loyalist poses for a drone as he is filmed making final preparations to a huge bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Ballymacash bonfire is reported as the largest bonfire construct in the province. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Men construct a bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
File photo dated 10/07/16 of a completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as huge bonfires, are to be lit in loyalist communities across Northern Ireland ahead of the main date in the loyal order parading season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.Issue date: Monday July 11, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
An bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
An bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Men construct a bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Men stand on a bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A bonfire under construction near Chobam Street, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Men construct a bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Pacemaker Press 11/7/2016 A on looker watches on at the preparations the for 11th night Bonfire at Ballymacash in Lisburn, ahead of the 12th of July celebration across Northern Ireland. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 11/7/2016 Preparations the for 11th night Bonfire at Donegall Road in Belfast, ahead of the 12th of July celebration across Northern Ireland. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2016: Pallets for a bonfire are stacked near Sandy Row in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2016: Pallets for a bonfire are stacked near the Comber Greenway in east Belfast, blocking a cycle path leading into the city Swings and a climbing frame have been removed from a £250,000 playground next to the Comber Greenway in east Belfast because of the dangers posed by an Eleventh Night bonfire. Homes and windows are being boarded up near the bonfire. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2016: Pallets for a bonfire are stacked near the Comber Greenway in east Belfast, blocking a cycle path leading into the city Swings and a climbing frame have been removed from a £250,000 playground next to the Comber Greenway in east Belfast because of the dangers posed by an Eleventh Night bonfire. Homes and windows are being boarded up near the bonfire. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Sunday 10th July 2016 The Bonfire at Drumtara, Ballee, in Ballymena which is stacked with tyres.
The Edgarstown bonfire in Portadown in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Photo: PressEye
The Edgarstown bonfire in Portadown in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Photo: PressEye
Ballycraigy bonfire in Antrim
Pacemaker Press Belfast 08-07-2016: Bonfire in the Loyalist Ballybeen estate in Dundonald, close the Parliament buidlings, Stormont. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 08-07-2016: Bonfire in the Loyalist Ballybeen estate in Dundonald, close the Parliament buidlings, Stormont. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th July A bonfire is prepared on the Milltown Road in south Belfast ahead of the 11th night bonfire celebrations which will take place across Northern Ireland this Monday night. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Credit - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast, UK - July 07 , Tyres on the Ballybeen Bonfire in Dundonald on July 07, 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Credit - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast, UK - July 07 , Tyres on the Ballybeen Bonfire in Dundonald on July 07, 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Pacemaker Press 5/7/2016 Preparations get well under way at Chobham Street Bonfire in East Belfast, on the run up to The 12th of July. Pic Pacemaker

Mr Martin, who has responsibility for overseeing operations around bonfires and parading, added: "I am required in law to consider the necessity and proportionality of my actions.

"Often I take a view that enforcement action is not proportionate in the circumstances, albeit I fully recognise that is what some people would want.

"Police deal with crimes and some of the crimes involved would be extremely difficult to prove.

"For example, whilst putting an election poster on a bonfire might be very distressful to the person whose image is on it, and the political party involved might hold very strong feelings about it, the offence in reality is likely to be the theft of a piece of paper.

"In considering enforcement action, I have to think about the consequences of police action.

"I have to balance the benefits of recovering the poster to prove an offence of theft that would be very difficult to identify someone for, against the risk that police intervening would create increased tension and risk of disorder and then correspondingly the increased risk of police having to use force to quell that disorder.

"Added to that, the law around hate crimes and incidents in Northern Ireland differs from other UK regions.

"The hate element must accompany a specific substantive criminal offence for example theft or criminal damage.

"The PSNI is on record as calling for a discussion on the need for specific hate crime legislation in Northern Ireland.

"I can assure the public that we take all hate incidents and crimes extremely seriously and will ensure they are investigated appropriately."




































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