Belfast Telegraph

Call for action to tackle political emblems on Belfast bonfires following report

Councillors discussed the report at a special meeting on Tuesday

Bonfire in Sandy Row
Bonfire in Sandy Row

There have been calls for the implementation of the recommendations of a report carried out by Dr Tom Frawley into decisions taken on bonfires last year in Belfast City Council.

Former Northern Ireland Ombudsman Tom Frawley was appointed to investigate the council's controversial storage of bonfire material last summer.

The report was discussed at a special meeting of Belfast’s City Council’s Strategic Policy & Resources Committee om Monday.

SDLP council leader Tim Attwood welcomed the publication and said his party wanted to see the recommendations of the report implemented.

“I welcome the comprehensive and detailed report by Mr Tom Frawley. He has raised challenging questions about accountability, governance, enforcement and interagency working," he said.

“The SDLP fully recognise the importance of bonfires to the wider unionist community as part their celebration of their culture and tradition. For many years, as Vice Chair of Shared City Partnership, I have supported the bonfire diversionary programme in Belfast City Council and recognise that many unionist communities are on a journey in relation in developing bonfires which are safe and enhance cultural celebration. It is welcome that more communities are using beacons.

“It is clear that lessons need to be learnt following events at some bonfires in 2017 especially in relation to effective governance, openness and accountability in terms of decision making. This report provides a helpful road map to move this forward and it needs to be acted upon."

Cllr Attwood said that the current situation surrounding bonfires needed to change.

“I believe people want to see things change. We must recognise that there are a number of bonfires which continue to put at risk people’s health, homes and property. Post Grenfell, this is unacceptable. There remain a number of bonfires which are used to burn flags, posters and for racist and sectarian slogans. This is not part of a cultural celebration and is unacceptable," he said.

“There also needs to be greater leadership on this issue from statutory partners Council, NIHE, PSNI and NI Environmental Agency all have a collective and strategic responsibility to address bonfires which put at risk people’s health or 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.

“The SDLP wish to engage in discussion in a positive debate with other parties and agencies, to implement the Frawley recommendations which can tackle difficult bonfires and enhance unionist cultural celebrations. We are also supportive of bottom up approaches which may mean more communities may join our diversionary scheme.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Deirdre Hargey said the recommendations needed to be implemented as soon as possible.

“We got agreement that the report should be made public and published with the redaction of the names and positions of staff which could identify them but all other details of the report will be published," she said.

“There will also be a summary of the investigation and communications part of the report.

“Sinn Féin recognises that not all the recommendations will be implemented before this summer, but the process for change starts from now. We need to look at implementation of the recommendations particularly around governance, accountability and adherence to the law."

Cllr Hargey said the current situation could not be allowed to continue.

“The council needs to deal with excesses around bonfires which pose risk or harm to people, property or the environment. Proper risk assessments need to be carried out on sites addressing these excesses.," she said.

“Current practice cannot continue where there is the burning of flags, election posters and effigies, which cause great offence to sections of the community.

“We do encourage and support communities who show the required leadership by dealing with the negative excesses associated with some unacceptable bonfires. They will have the support of all parties ‘who want to protect people, property and the environment’, as expressions of cultural identity. "

She said that her party would like to see the new scheme strengthened.

“Statutory agencies can no longer remain passive or ignore the law, or their statutory duties when dealing with these issues. A step change is needed. A sense of lawlessness over the summer can no longer prevail," Cllr Hargey said.

“There will now be a process of moving forward on the recommendations and addressing the governance issues raised in the report and we will work to ensure there is both transparency and accountability.

“We are also looking to address governance mechanisms this year while agreeing to continue the bonfire and beacon scheme.

“However, Sinn Féin has proposed strengthening the scheme so that organisers have to take practical steps to deal with the negative excesses at some bonfires.

“If they don’t then sanctions should be applied and the interim arrangements should take steps necessary to protect life, property and the environment.”

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