Belfast Telegraph

Officer who said 'bye, bye bonfire' taken off duties

By Mark Edwards

A PSNI officer has been stood down after he was caught on film saying "bye, bye bonfire" during the removal of a pyre.

The footage, which emerged on social media, shows the dismantling of the bonfire at Cluan Place in east Belfast on Wednesday.

During the video, taken from inside a police Land Rover, radio transmissions between police officers can be heard as the bonfire is pushed over by machinery.

Towards the end of the clip, someone can be heard saying "bye bye bonfire" as it is knocked over.

The PSNI said it was aware of the footage and confirmed it was filmed by a police officer.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: "We hold our officers to the highest standard of conduct and it is clear that this conduct has fallen far short of the standards we set.

"The officer was quickly identified and immediately stood down from operational duty pending internal enquiries into their conduct.

"It is important to say that we view the actions of this individual officer as completely unacceptable and are certainly not representative of the excellent work carried out by officers across Northern Ireland last night."

Tensions were high in the area on Wednesday after contractors guarded by police moved into Cluan Place to remove the bonfire, which had been deemed unsafe. Earlier in the day the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire was set on fire before Department for Infrastructure contractors were able to move in to reduce the pyre to three metres and remove further bonfire material from the site.

The move to reduce the height came after a High Court order that deemed the bonfire a risk to property and lives.

The officer's remarks were criticised by loyalists on Twitter.

Jamie Bryson of the East Belfast Community Initiative claimed it exposed the police's agenda.

He posted: "Video beginning to circulate of a PSNI officer laughing saying 'bye, bye bonfire'.

"As if their agenda wasn't clear enough, this confirms it."

Belfast Telegraph

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