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Clean-up after Northern Ireland bonfires cost over £200,000

Clearing up Northern Ireland's summer bonfires cost over £200,000, it was claimed today.

July alone cost an estimated £84,000 and included a bill of £20,000 to repair damage to the Lecky Road flyover in Derry, according to Conor Murphy's Regional Development department.

South Antrim SDLP MLA Thomas Burns also said another £116,978 was spent by other local councils to clear up the mess and restore roads.

He added: "Roads Service and local councils have once again been hit with a massive bill because of reckless and irresponsible behaviour. Who in their right mind would build a bonfire close to a flyover, then stand by and watch as it caused £20,000 worth of damage?

"We can't afford these cleanup costs. The public purse is pretty empty as it is. We can't be squandering valuable resources repairing damage which should never have been done and was completely avoidable in the first place."

Mr Burns said: "No one is saying the bonfires cannot be lit on July 11. I certainly recognise this is part of the unionist tradition and is a very important community event in many areas."

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