Belfast Telegraph

Council will not intervene at 'unsafe' Portadown bonfire

The Corcrain Drive bonfire in 2018. Credit: Youtube
The Corcrain Drive bonfire in 2018. Credit: Youtube

A Northern Ireland council will not intervene to remove a bonfire that the Fire Service has deemed a "serious health and safety risk" to nearby residents, it has emerged.

Last week, the South Ulster Housing Association wrote to residents at two blocks of flats in the Corcrain Drive/Redmanville area of Portadown offering them alternative accommodation due to the safety risk posed by the pyre.

The letter stated that the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) advised the council that the distance between the block of flats and the bonfire was "well short of the minimum distance considered safe" and that the "bonfire poses a serious health and safety risk to residents and poses a risk of damage to your property".

On Tuesday night, it emerged that senior council officers from Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council have decided not to intervene to remove the bonfire, as the time frame for safe removal has passed.

Alliance councillor Peter Lavery called on bonfire builders to voluntarily remove or reduce the size of the bonfire.

“The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service has determined there is a serious health and safety risk to residents and their property, which is extremely worrying,” he said.

“Our preferred solution was for the bonfire to be reduced or removed but that window has now closed. Alliance supports positive, respectful and safe expressions of culture.

"However, that is clearly not the case with this bonfire, which puts residents and their homes at direct risk. That is unacceptable.

“I call on the builders of this bonfire to exercise responsibility and recognise the impact this may cause. They need to reduce the bonfire dramatically or remove it entirely."

Sinn Fein councillor Paul Duffy said the council's decision was a "complete abdication" of its duty to ratepayers.

“We all have a right to live free from fear and intimidation in our homes but this Council is failing dismally in its duty to protect ratepayers and uphold its legal responsibilities," he added.

“The lack of leadership from within unionism in tackling these bonfires is also telling.

“As a result, residents will tomorrow be faced with a decision to take shelter in a community centre or hostel or risk their lives. That is a shameful indictment on all those involved.”

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