Belfast Telegraph

Derry mayor hails bonfire alternatives as a way forward

By Eamonn Macdermott

The success in organising events as an alternative to bonfires in Londonderry should mark the way forward, according to the city’s mayor.

Elisha McCallion was speaking after a weekend which saw bonfires in the Bogside and Creggan areas and a police investigation into possible hate crimes following the burning of a poppy wreath and flags.

In the Shantallow area, where a series of community events were organised, there were no bonfires at all.

The mayor attended some of the events held to offer local communities an alternative way forward.

Hailing the success of the initiative, Sinn Fein councillor Tony Hassan said this type of festival was “the positive way forward”.

Cllr Hassan was speaking as his Sinn Fein party colleague on Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Kevin Campbell, called on the council to ban all bonfires.

Congratulating the organisers of the alternative events, Cllr Hassan called on the Derry and Strabane council to provide additional funding for such groups.

He said: “I would like to commend everyone involved in making this year’s community festivals a great success.

“For the first time in many years the area was free from bonfires.

“It was good to see the hundreds of young children and parent’s attending or taking part in these excellent events.

“The organisers of these festivals and the many volunteers who helped out behind the scenes must be applauded for their sterling work over this past week.

“What these festivals have proven is that there are other ways to celebrate August 15 other than bonfires which make a mess of our areas.”

Cllr Hassan concluded: “I would call on Derry City and Strabane District council to have a look at providing additional funding for festivals to community groups in the greater Shantallow area and the wider city in general as this year has proven that there is an alternative to the negative custom of bonfires.”

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