Belfast Telegraph

'Far too early' for Belfast bonfire collections, says unionist councillor - pallets already being gathered

The bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in 2018. Pallets have been collected for this year already.
The bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in 2018. Pallets have been collected for this year already.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

A Belfast councillor has said it is "far too early" for collections to have begun for a bonfire saying people in the community would welcome its removal.

Last year the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in the east of the city sparked controversy which ended in the High Court intervening and private, masked contractors moving in to take way the material to reduce its height after it was found to pose a "serious threat" to homes in the area.

Police were attacked and the material set alight during the operation to remove material.

Over recent days pallets have been gathered in the area sparking concern among the local community.

Ulster Unionist Councillor Jim Rodgers said he and others had received complaints about the material collecting in the area.

"It is far too early," he told the Belfast Telegraph, "I am not against bonfires so long as they are in a safe area. But starting to collect materials at this time of year is not acceptable.

"Organisers need to store the material away under lock and key and wait until June and then they will have a good six weeks to collect."

It is thought there are other areas in the city where collections for bonfires have begun. In the wake of last year's High Court judgment there have been concerns bonfires built this year would be bigger, such was the anger among some in the loyalist community to the court's ruling.

The court last year heard the Bloomfiled Walkway pyre was under the control of "sinister forces" within the east Belfast UVF.

Jim Rodgers said that was a concern for many in the community, although he did not know who was organising the bonfire.

A bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in east Belfast in July 12 2018. Pacemaker Press
A bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in east Belfast in July 12 2018. Pacemaker Press
An East Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July.
A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 police in riot gear present at the scene.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2018 The scene at Bloomfield Walk bonfire in east Belfast, which was set on fire during the night. A High Court order late on Tuesday night stated that the bonfire should be reduced in size as it was a danger to surrounding homes. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
The scene at Bloomfield Walk bonfire in east Belfast, which was set on fire during the night. A High Court order late on Tuesday night stated that the bonfire should be reduced in size as it was a danger to surrounding homes. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2018 The scene at Bloomfield Walk bonfire in east Belfast, which was set on fire during the night. A High Court order late on Tuesday night stated that the bonfire should be reduced in size as it was a danger to surrounding homes. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2018 The scene at Bloomfield Walk bonfire in east Belfast, which was set on fire during the night. A High Court order late on Tuesday night stated that the bonfire should be reduced in size as it was a danger to surrounding homes. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2018 The scene at Bloomfield Walk bonfire in east Belfast, which was set on fire during the night. A High Court order late on Tuesday night stated that the bonfire should be reduced in size as it was a danger to surrounding homes. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2018 The scene at Bloomfield Walk bonfire in east Belfast, which was set on fire during the night. A High Court order late on Tuesday night stated that the bonfire should be reduced in size as it was a danger to surrounding homes. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2018 The scene at Bloomfield Walk bonfire in east Belfast, which was set on fire during the night. A High Court order late on Tuesday night stated that the bonfire should be reduced in size as it was a danger to surrounding homes. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Bloomfield Walk bonfire in east Belfast, which was set on fire during the night, as seen from the Castlereigh Hills. A High Court order late on Tuesday night stated that the bonfire should be reduced in size as it was a danger to surrounding homes. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Civilian contractors remove bonfire material from the site. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Civilian contractors remove bonfire material from the site. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in east Belfast. The east Belfast bonfire was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced ahead of the 11th July. A large police operation was also put in place with over 100 PSNI officers in riot gear present at the scene. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
The fire was set alight early.
The scene on Wednesday morning.
Bloomfield Walk bonfire on the Comber Greenway before it was set alight.
Fire crews at the pyre last night

He said there had been a lot of good people involved in the bonfire over the years but "others come in and want to do their own thing".

"For bonfires to be successful everyone has got to be consulted so we do not have a small group of people dictating to the community.

"It is not in the interests of loyalism to have confrontations around bonfires. They tie up resources of the police, the Fire Service and the ambulance.

"Health and safety has to be number one - it is of paramount importance and in Bloomfield Walkway they need to lift the pallets and store them elsewhere."

The former Lord Mayor of Belfast said members of the community would welcome its removal.

"It causes inconvenience if the material is not properly stacked up.  We want to try and make sure those involved build a bonfire that's safe."

He continued: "There has been a lot of money spent in the area on a play park and it is a bit concerning to see materials thrown across the place.

"It is not the best place for a bonfire but in the mean time it is important they stop gathering material for it.

"Most people in the area would welcome it if the bonfire was moved elsewhere."

Talks have been ongoing through the year between those in the community, councillors and officials in a bid to learn from the experience of the previous year.

Councillor Rodgers was born close to the area and says he is very proud of it and wants to see it maintained and supported with more investment.

"Children would play in the area and the community does not want to see it damaged," he said.

"People have worked hard to improve the area for everyone and this bonfire has caused a great deal of difficulty."

Belfast City Council and the Department for Infrastructure have been asked for comment.

William Young used a drone to take this remarkable photo of the bonfire at Sandy Row. 11/07/2017
William Young used a drone to take this remarkable photo of the bonfire at Sandy Row. 11/07/2017
Sandy Row Photo: William Young
Sandy Row Photo: William Young
Roden Street Photo: William Young
Shankill Photo: William Young
The scene on Love Lane in Carrickfergus as the local community rebuild a bonfire after the original bonfire they build was burnt on Monday evening. Picture by Matt Mackey / presseye.com 10/07/2017
The scene on Love Lane in Carrickfergus as the local community rebuild a bonfire after the original bonfire they build was burnt on Monday evening. Picture by Matt Mackey / presseye.com 10/07/2017
The scene on Love Lane in Carrickfergus as the local community rebuild a bonfire after the original bonfire they build was burnt on Monday evening. Picture by Matt Mackey / presseye.com 10/07/2017
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2017: Final preparations takes place for the Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast .The bonfires will be lit in loyalist areas as part of Eleventh Night celebrations on Tuesday night. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2017: Final preparations takes place for the Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast .The bonfires will be lit in loyalist areas as part of Eleventh Night celebrations on Tuesday night. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2017: Final preparations take place for the Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast .The bonfires will be lit in loyalist areas as part of Eleventh Night celebrations on Tuesday night. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan posted this photo of one of his election posters on a bonfire and said he considers the action a hate crime.
Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. [Photo: 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. [Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com]
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. [Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA Wire]
Masked men continue to build a bonfire at Inverary Playing Fields in Belfast. [Photo: PA Wire 10/07/2017]
A bonfire constructed across the road from a petrol station in Carrickfergus was set alight in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

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