Belfast Telegraph

Council bonfire licence plan will not be in place for Twelfth of July

By Michael Sheils McNamee

A controversial bonfire licensing scheme by a Northern Ireland council will not come into effect in time for the Twelfth of July.

In March, members of Mid Ulster District Council voted through recommendations put forward by its Bonfire Working Group, which among other things, included the requirement for bonfire organisers to prove fires held on council property met certain conditions.

At a meeting on Tuesday night of the council's Environment Committee, councillors agreed to invite feedback on a newly developed policy - effectively pushing out the start date for the scheme until 2019.

A 13-week consultation will now begin on Monday, June 4, with the public asked to come forward with feedback on the new policy.

Under the Bonfire Management Police, organisers are asked to make commitments around bonfire heights; materials being used for burning; stewarding and safeguarding; and event management plans.

The consultation period aimed at familiarising community representatives with how the proposals will work in practice.

Earlier this month, the UUP's group leader on the council Trevor Wilson said he believed the scheme will not be enacted by this summer.

He also said legal opinion had been sought on the issue, and he had raised a number of issues around it.

After the vote in March to introduce the licensing scheme, Mr Wilson said the vote was "another example of what Unionists can expect if Sinn Fein get a majority in a council or any other elected assembly".

"All talk of consensus politics is thrown out the window and they ride roughshod over the views of Unionists. They won`t listen to or even attempt to take on board the views of Unionists who will see this as another attack on their culture," he said.

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