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Bonfires are a dangerous and costly tradition

Published 06/07/2011

It's bonfire time again, with illegal dumping throughout the streets of Northern Ireland.

Last Friday there was a report in the Belfast Telegraph of a seven-year-old boy who was pushed into a bonfire which could have burnt him to death. Last year, a couple returned from holiday to find their house burnt down by one.

I have been advised that bonfire forum meetings are held with council and local representatives to consider applications from bonfire organisers. However there is no input from local residents.

Bonfire organisers receive a payment of £3,000 to £4,000 if there are no major incidents at the event.

There are health and safety and environmental issues, as the bonfires are not monitored and illegal dumping can remain on site for several months.

There are additional funding issues with extra council costs for clearing the site and costs relating to call-outs from the fire service when the bonfires are out of control. There is also a negative effect on our tourist industry.

In view of the current constraints on public expenditure, I cannot understand why local councils and the Assembly are not taking a more proactive approach to ban all bonfires.



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