Belfast Telegraph

Belfast bonfire material removed by council - far too early for pallets says unionist councillor

The bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in 2018. Pallets have been collected for this year already.
The bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in 2018. Pallets have been collected for this year already.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Materials for a Belfast bonfire have been removed.

Pallets had been collected for a controversial bonfire at the Bloomfield Walkway site in the east of the city off the Newtownards Road over recent days.

Residents in the area have complained, said UUP Councillor Jim Rodgers saying it was "far too early" for material to be gathered for the July bonfires.

He also said residents in the area would welcome the bonfire's removal as it had been the source of problems.

Last year the bonfire was at the centre of controversy which ended in the High Court intervening and private, masked contractors moving in to take way the material to reduce its height after it was found to pose a "serious threat" to homes in the area.

The court heard the the pyre was under the control of "sinister forces" within the east Belfast UVF.

UUP Councillor Jim Rodgers said that was a concern for many in the community, although he did not know who was organising the bonfire. He pallets piling up in April was "far too early".

He said there had been a lot of good people involved in the bonfire over the years but "others come in and want to do their own thing".

"For bonfires to be successful everyone has got to be consulted so we do not have a small group of people dictating to the community.

"It is not in the interests of loyalism to have confrontations around bonfires. They tie up resources of the police, the Fire Service and the ambulance.

"Health and safety has to be number one - it is of paramount importance and in Bloomfield Walkway they need to lift the pallets and store them elsewhere."

In a statement, Belfast City Council said: “Council has this morning worked with Department for Infrastructure as the landowner, elected members and community representatives to remove materials from this site.”

The Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said: "The Department has been liaising with the Council and the material at Bloomfield walkway has now been removed."

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