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Bonfire-hit residents want law, not money

The response of newly elected MP Emma Little Pengelly to the damage caused to apartments by a precarious bonfire is hopelessly inadequate.

To start with, had she, in fact, been interested in the concerns of residents of the apartments, she would have known that their prime concern is not insurance.

What happened on the night of July 11 is that apartment block residents faced serious danger, concerned at any moment that the damage could extend from broken glass to become a fire engulfing their homes and endangering those living in them, including children.

No elected representative should even have to hesitate to recognise that such a situation — brought on solely by the size and location of the bonfire causing the danger — is utterly unacceptable and never to be repeated.

What also happened that night was that the bonfire tipping over seriously endangered firefighters and action had to be taken to avoid serious injury.

Firefighters are public servants and, again, no public representative should have to hesitate before recognising that placing public servants in such danger is not to be tolerated.

This is before we even get to the issue of insurance, with the hassle and future rises in premiums the whole event entails.

Fundamentally, this issue is not about bonfires, but about the basic rule of law. No one has the right to shirk health and safety regulations at a public event, regardless of what form it takes.

No public representative could miss this obvious point.

Paula Bradshaw

(Alliance)

MLA for South Belfast

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