Belfast Telegraph

Council to vote over report into row on bonfire pallets storage

By Rebecca Black

A much-discussed report commissioned by Belfast City Council following a row around the storage of bonfire material could be published early next week.

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

But the contents of his report have been kept confidential to date, with most councillors only getting restricted access to it.

There was criticism across several media outlets last week that the report had not been released publicly.

However, at a special meeting of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on March 27, councillors voted by 13 to two in favour of publishing the full report. The result emerged last night when the minutes of the meeting were published on the council website.

Decisions made by council committees are not official until approved by a full meeting.

The next full meeting takes place on Monday and if the minutes of that special SPR committee meeting are approved, officials will be authorised to make Mr Frawley's report public.

A council spokeswoman said: "Dr Frawley's Bonfire Review Report was presented at a special meeting of Council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on Tuesday, March 27.

"The committee's recommendations on next steps will go forward to full council for ratification at its meeting on April 9."

Meanwhile, the committee meeting minutes also include the agreement of six conditions which community groups organising bonfires must abide by to receive council funding from it's Bonfire and Cultural Expression Programme.

The conditions include a ban on collecting materials until June 1, a ban on tyres and other hazardous materials and a ban on paramilitary trappings.

The fourth condition demands bonfires must be sited on a "clear unenclosed space at a safe distance from buildings and overhead cables" and should conform to the 1:5 principle - eg, if the bonfire is 20 metres tall, it should be at least 100 metres from the nearest building.

The final two stipulations include a ban on burning flags, emblems or election posters, and that groups must comply with council health and safety advice.

Ten bonfire beacons are set to be allocated, as well as up to £1,750 in funding for community events and activities that promote engagement on issues of cultural expression and diversity.

Belfast Telegraph

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