Belfast Telegraph

Bonfire-hit apartment residents given assurances damage won't be allowed to happen again

By Claire Williamson and Cate McCurry

Residents of an apartment block damaged by an Eleventh night bonfire have been given assurances it will not be allowed to happen again.

Windows were cracked at the Victoria Place apartments as the towering bonfire raged on a vacant Housing Executive-owned vacant piece of land on the Eleventh Night near Sandy Row.

Firefighters stationed themselves on the top of the building, dousing it with water, to prevent the fire spreading.

On Wednesday a meeting was held with around 30 residents which was attended by politicians, PSNI, Belfast City Council, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and the Housing Executive - to discuss issues surrounding the bonfire.

It's understood there were no unionist politicians present at the meeting.

The DUP said south Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford "received no invite to the meeting" and said his "office is open for any resident that wishes to speak with him on the matter".

The spokeswoman added that MP Emma Little Pengelly has written to residents.

Residents said a "plan of action" has been put in place amid further meetings would be taking place with residents to discuss making the bonfire safer for the future.

SDLP MLA Claire Hanna said it was a "constructive meeting".

She said: "Residents are very frustrated but they are also very reasonable and they put their case to the agencies.

“They have been around the block over the years trying to get their property protected.

“The agencies left with no doubt they will have to act on this.

“It’s my view that we need fresh legislation on this as no individual land owner should have to challenge their way through this political mess.”

Alliance councillor Emmet McDonough Brown said that a meeting will be held in September to "chart progress".

He tweeted: “Residents angry but agencies agreed to do more and try harder."

“We cannot allow residents to bear the risk of contentious issues alone,” he added.

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