Belfast Telegraph

Belfast council pulls funds for kids' party due to size of bonfire

By Rebecca Black

A south Belfast community has cancelled a children's party after funding was withdrawn due to the size of its Eleventh Night bonfire.

The Roden Street pyre is believed to be one of the biggest in the city, comprised of some 8,000 pallets, bedecked with the banner 'RSD Big and Proud'.

It is just a few metres from the Westlink, one of Belfast's busiest roads.

The site also has a much smaller bonfire for the children to light.

However, the size of the main construction led to Belfast City Council withdrawing funding for a children's event at the site ahead of the main Eleventh Night event tomorrow night.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page yesterday, the organisers said they had been forced to cancel the children's event, which it described as the 'Sandy Row Fun Day'.

It also appealed to anyone who could help them rescue the event by helping them to come forward.

"Just to let everyone know Sandy Row Fun Day for the kids is cancelled. The council won't fund it, said the bonfire is too big. Can everyone tag people to let them know and maybe someone out there will see this and help get the kids something for 11th. Not fair the kids have to suffer.

"Council is a bloody joke, everyone should kick up about this. Support Sandy Row. Let's show the council, we can do this on our own."

South Belfast DUP MLA Christopher Stalford criticised what he termed the "unfair and wrong" decision of the council to withdraw the funding, which he said had been done with just 24 hours' notice.

"It is a scandal that it should have had the funding pulled. I will do all I can to get this disgraceful decision reversed," he said.

On Sunday, bonfire volunteers at the site said they believed their pyre was the biggest in the city, detailing that it had taken two weeks of "blood, sweat and tears" for 25 men to erect the 8,000-pallet structure.

At that stage they said the council had been "more than helpful", even helping them to seal off a hole in the fence to stop children getting on to a busy road.

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said: "Funding is currently being withheld, awaiting further discussion with elected members."

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