Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's council and Department for Infrastructure at loggerheads over Bloomfield bonfire

The loyalist bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in Belfast in 2017.
The loyalist bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in Belfast in 2017.

By Andrew Madden, Local Democracy Reporter

Belfast City Council is preparing to file an injunction against Stormont’s Department for Infrastructure over a bonfire in the city centre, it has emerged.

On Monday, City Hall councillors met with DfI’s permanent secretary Peter May for two impromptu, behind-closed-doors meetings about the scale of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast.

The meetings involving BCC’s Strategic Policy and Resources committee followed similar (unsuccessful) discussions over the weekend between councillors and DfI officials about removing some of the material from the controversial pyre.

On Monday however, the extra material remained on the Bloomfield bonfire - one of four east Belfast pyres issued with injunctions last year to prevent any more material being brought to the sites.

The site where the bonfire is situated is primarily owned by DfI, however the council does have infrastructure nearby, including a play park, and it owns lands on the site’s northern boundary.

It is understood Peter May and DfI officials were of the view that the bonfire is “manageable”, according to sources.

On Monday evening discussions appeared to break down, with one councillor commenting “the discussions were far from a meeting of minds, to put it lightly”.

In a joint statement issued on Monday night, BCC’s SPR committee said that while success has been had in improving the bonfire situation from last year, “the situation at the Bloomfield Walkway has continued to prove difficult.”

“Despite efforts by a range of agencies, the bonfire has been measured this morning as not being at a safe height acceptable to be within the guidelines of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service,” they added.

“We would make a final plea to the bonfire builders to remove the surplus material so as to reduce the threat to property.

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.
The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.
The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.
The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.
The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.
The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.
The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.
The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.
The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.
The 'eleventh nightÕ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.
The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire in west Belfast. [Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye 11-07-17]
The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The 'eleventh nightÕ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Firefighters near a lit bonfire on Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017.
The Lower Shankill bonfire in west Belfast. [Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye 11-07-17]
A quiet moment as the Sandy Row bonfire in south Belfast starts to die down. [Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye]
Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Onlookers watch as firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Loyalists finish a bonfire in East Belfast in preparation for the 11th night celebrations on July 11, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalists finish a bonfire in East Belfast in preparation for the 11th night celebrations on July 11, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalists finish a bonfire in East Belfast in preparation for the 11th night celebrations on July 11, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalists finish a bonfire in East Belfast in preparation for the 11th night celebrations on July 11, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LISBURN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Having finished school for the summer 13 year old Tyler Reid helps guard the Lisburn bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. The bonfires, which are lit on the stroke of midnight on the 11th night, mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades in Northern Ireland. The annual Orange marches celebrate the protestant King William of Orange's victory over the catholic English King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: A Loyalist climbs the Conway street bonfire built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) ***BESTPIX***
Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Masked men continue to build a bonfire at Inverary Playing Fields in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Masked men continue to build a bonfire at Inverary Playing Fields in Belfast. Police in Northern Ireland have warned their resources could be stretched amid growing fears of tension around the burning of Eleventh night bonfires. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 10, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
Loyalists sit on the Sandy Row bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Roden Street bonfire. The largest bonfire in Belfast.
Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Roden Street bonfire. The largest bonfire in Belfast.
Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Roden Street bonfire. The largest bonfire in Belfast.
Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Roden Street bonfire. The largest bonfire in Belfast.
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Loyalists climb The Village bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Loyalists climb The Village bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Loyalists climb The Village bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Loyalists sit on the Sandy Row bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Loyalists sit on the Sandy Row bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Loyalists sit on the Sandy Row bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
LARNE, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: 'Hurka' the chief architect and builder of the Craigyhill bonfire takes a break from stacking pallets to pose with his creation whilst balancing on a ladder on July 10, 2017 in Larne, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Pastor Lucas Parks at his church in east Belfast close to the walkway bonfire on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Conway Street bonfire in West Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Conway Street bonfire in West Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Conway Street bonfire in West Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield Walkway bonfire site.
Posters of Sinn Fein politicians are seen placed on a bonfire in the Shankill area of west Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]
A wooden pallet is carried to a bonfire in the Shankill area of west Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires [Photo: Paul Faith /AFP/Getty Images]
Bonfire builders Dean Neeson and Graeme Stewart carry wooden pallets to a bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith /AFP/Getty Images]
Posters of Sinn Fein politicians are seen placed on a bonfire in Shankill. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]
A bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn.[Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]
A bonfire is pictured in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]
A bonfire towers over the housing in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]
Children play on a bonfire in the village area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A Union flag flutters in the breeze in front of a bonfire in the village area of Belfast. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]
Former Bonfire builder Colin Tweedie, poses for a photograph beside a bonfire in the village area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]
Former Bonfire builder Colin Tweedie (R), inspects a bonfire in the village area of Belfast on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]
Bonfire builder Ryan Preston poses for a photograph on the Doonbeg bonfire in Rathcoole in north Belfast on July 10, 2017 ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]
Bonfire builder Ryan Preston poses for a photograph on the Doonbeg bonfire in Rathcoole on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]
Bonfire builder Ryan Preston poses for a photograph on the Doonbeg bonfire in Rathcoole on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]
Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 East Belfast Bonfire at Avoniel Leisure Centre car park that has had an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.
East Belfast Bonfire at Avoniel Leisure Centre car park that has had an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.
Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway East Belfast Bonfire ath Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway has had an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the bonfire site and added to the bonfire.
Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway East Belfast Bonfire ath Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway has had an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the bonfire site and added to the bonfire.
Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway East Belfast Bonfire ath Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway has had an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the bonfire site and added to the bonfire.
Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 East Belfast Bonfire at Inverary playing fields that has an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.
Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 East Belfast Bonfire at Inverary playing fields that has an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.
Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 East Belfast Bonfire at Inverary playing fields that has an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.

“However, we recognise that the land on which the bonfire is built, is owned by the Department for Infrastructure and so it is their responsibility.

“If there is not a satisfactory resolution in the time remaining, the Council calls upon the Department for Infrastructure to take all measures possible to reduce the potential damage to local properties.”

Following the Hightown Incinerator judgement earlier this year which raised questions over the validity of ministerial decision making in the absence of an Executive, Stormont departments now are wary of making any potentially contentious decisions.

Sources say that if an agreed way forward is not found tomorrow, Belfast City Council officers will proceed to take out an injunction out against DfI with a view to forcing the department to take action.

Alliance councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown said his party were “extremely disappointed” at DfI’s take on the issue and are concernment about damage not only to resident’s and council property, but the potential risk to life.

“At the end of the day, DfI are letting down the residents in the vicinity of Bloomfield Walkway,” he said.

“We feel, and so do many other parties, that the department have it in there power to reduce the size of the bonfire to ensure there is no, or at least limit as much as possible, any threat to life and property.

“If it comes to it, we hope officers are successful in securing an injunction against DfI that would see them take steps to mitigate any potential damage that could be caused by the fire - it’s not too late to do the right thing.”

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