Belfast Telegraph

Belfast council refuses to replace bonfire pallets stolen from storage

By Brett Campbell

Belfast City Council will not be replacing any of the 3,000 pallets it had controversially stored for loyalist bonfires that were stolen from its premises.

The Belfast Telegraph last week revealed the theft of the material, which the council was holding in east Belfast and was due to return to loyalists in the run-up to the Eleventh Night.

The pallets were to be returned to two contentious bonfire sites - one near Chobham Street in east Belfast and the other beside the Holiday Inn in Sandy Row.

Prominent loyalist Jamie Bryson demanded that the council should buy the loyalists new pallets to replace the ones stolen from council premises on the Gransha Road last week.

Writing on Twitter he warned that: "Failure to do so should sound the death knell for loyalist engagement with any statutory agencies."

Kilkeel councillor Henry Reilly warned that failure to resolve the situation will be seen as "breach of trust".

The independent unionist also warned that inaction will "end cooperation and foster more alienation".

A spokesperson for Belfast City Council also said that some of the pallets stored by the local authority had been returned to a company after it claimed they had been taken without permission.

"Most recently, one particular type of pallet was identified as belonging to a particular company who made claim of ownership and council returned those within their control immediately," the spokesperson said.

Referring to a council investigation launched at the end of last week after a unanimous vote by City Hall councillors, they said the "unauthorised removal" of the pallets from the council site is also subject to a police investigation.

"Following a decision by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on Friday, no materials will be returned by council to any person(s) for the purposes of burning on bonfires," they added.

"Belfast City Council work closely with the PSNI and other statutory agencies in respect of managing the impacts of bonfires and the materials used on them," they added.

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