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Belfast council plan to return pallets shows they are facilitating creation of dangerous bonfires

 

Your report (News, June 23) that 3,000 pallets being stored by Belfast City Council after being removed from contentious bonfires have been stolen demonstrates just what a mess the council is in over the bonfires issue.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland sets out guidelines for bonfire safety, suggesting the distance from a bonfire to the nearest property should be five times the height of the bonfire.

First, the council removed 3,000 pallets from known contentious fires at Chobham Street and Sandy Row and stored them. These two towering infernos to loyalist culture do not come close to conforming to Orange Lodge guidelines. In 2015 and 2016, the council, the Housing Executive and the Fire and Rescue Service took steps to board up houses and protect residents from a bonfire structure at Chobham Street.

The Sandy Row bonfire, built on Housing Executive land (without permission), has been criticised by tourists staying at the nearby Holiday Inn as intimidating and an eyesore.

Good work, then, from Belfast City Council for taking steps to remove this huge amount of pallets. Finally, some positive action is being taken.

But wait. The council intended to return these pallets to both bonfire sites.

To consider returning these pallets to facilitate these contentious pyres borders on lunacy. It shows the lengths to which the council will go to avoid addressing the detrimental environmental effect these infernos create.

In actively facilitating these bonfires, rather than trying to control them, the council is now colluding in their erection and may be corporately liable for any damage to property which may occur.

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