Shameful bonfire scenes cast Belfast in bad light as no other tourist destination would allow this to happen
Here's an idea for Tourism Northern Ireland if it wants to give a cutting-edge account of what holiday-makers can experience in Belfast city centre in the summer.
A photo of Days Hotel with a massive bonfire in Sandy Row in front of it and a crowd of drunken youths abusing passers-by and blasting out music at top volume every night.
Visitors to our city aren’t impressed. “Setting up the bonfire did nothing to improve stay or view from room. Noise continued late into the night, smell of smoke did not help,” one guest noted in a recent TripAdvisor review.
“Not a pleasant experience, place was noisy, not such a nice area, drunks, verbal abuse, guys with Union flags. Looking forward to leaving Belfast,” said another.
The poor hotel’s management try to apologise and explain that this is part of a local “cultural festival”.
Let’s remember, this is the Golden Mile, our so-called showcase streets. In no other British or European city centre would such behaviour be allowed to prevail for weeks on end. The police, the local authorities, or government would take action.
Here, the PSNI drive by and do nothing. The Housing Executive, which owns the land where the bonfire is built, fails to act. And Jonathan Bell — the Stormont minister responsible for tourism — hasn’t rushed down for a selfie at this one.
Still, the shameful scenes outside Days Hotel pale into insignificance when compared to what residents in Chobham Street in east Belfast are suffering.
A towering bonfire has been built just 30 feet from their homes. Petrified that their houses will go up in flames, they’ve pleaded with the council, the Department of Regional Development which owns the land, and the fire service to do something.
Some material could be removed to reduce the pyre but nobody is willing to do so.
Those who built the bonfire are morons. They’re the enemies, not of nationalists, but of their own community.
And the politicians and officials who sit on their hands are despicable cowards. They’re scared to act in case it provokes disorder on the streets.
You’d think they were dealing with ISIS and not a handful of drunken anti-social youths. The men in high places fiddle, while Northern Ireland burns.