Belfast Telegraph

Leaked Belfast council bonfire report: Councillor Tim Attwood 'regrets' key City Hall staff named

It emerged this week that no minutes were taken of Belfast council meetings about storing loyalists' bonfire pallets.

By Cate McCurry

A Belfast councillor said he "regrets" that a report into Belfast City Council's controversial decision to store around 2,500 pallets named some of the staff involved in the key decisions.

Former Northern Ireland Ombudsman Tom Frawley was asked to investigate events around the council's handling of Eleventh Night bonfires last summer.

The Belfast Telegraph exclusively obtained a copy of the report which names the City Hall staff mentioned in the 155-page document.

It was revealed today that former senior PSNI officer Nigel Grimshaw, the council's director of city and neighbourhood services, "directed that preparations and plans should be made with a view to removing the material" from the bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway, near Chobham Street, in east Belfast in May 2017.

SDLP group leader on Belfast City Council, Tim Attwood hit out after the unredacted copy of the report was published.

He said: "Every employer, including Belfast City Council, has a duty of care to staff.

"It was agreed at Strategic Policy and Resources that the full report would be published with redactions to protect our staff, it is deeply disappointing that somebody has ignored this decision.

"Our staff who work on our Bonfire Diversionary and Community Safety programmes work in some very challenging and difficult circumstances. I fully endorse the conclusion of Tom Frawley that staff were 'motivated by the right reasons rooted in public service values'.

"I fully support the recommendations of the comprehensive and detailed report by Tom Frawley.

"It makes uncomfortable reading and raises significant and challenging questions about accountability, governance, enforcement and interagency working.

"It is very clear that lessons need to be learnt following events at some bonfires in 2017, especially in relation to effective governance, openness and accountability in terms of decision making.

"I firmly believe this report provides a constructive road map to move this forward and needs to be acted upon urgently.

"It is clear that people want to see things change. There are a number of bonfires which continue to put people's health, homes and property at risk.

"Post Grenfell, this is unacceptable.

"The SDLP is fully committed to working with other parties and agencies, to implement the Frawley recommendations which can tackle difficult bonfires and enhance unionist cultural celebrations."

The Belfast City Council has been contacted for comment.

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