Belfast Telegraph

Paramilitaries not controlling most Belfast bonfires – Hutchinson

 

11th July Bonfires. Ballycraigy estate, Antrim - Bobby Sands, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness
11th July Bonfires. Ballycraigy estate, Antrim - Bobby Sands, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness
11th July Bonfires. Lower Shankill 11-07-2015
11th July Bonfires. Isis flag Ballysillan North Belfast. Pictures of Gerry Kelly, Alban Maginness
11th July Bonfires. Isis flag Ballysillan North Belfast. Pictures of Gerry Kelly, Alban Maginness 11-07-2015
11th July Bonfires. Ballycraigy estate, Antrim 11-07-2015
11th July Bonfires. Ballycraigy estate, Antrim - Bbby Sands, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness on the bonefire
11th July Bonfires. Ballycraigy estate, Antrim 11-07-2015
New Mossley 11-07-2015
Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 11th July 2015 - 12th Night Bonfires Pictured is Fire Fighters at the Sandy Row bonfire in South Belfast as the intense heat begins to melt objects and forces the crowds back as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
The huge bonfire on Lanark Way
Election posters of Alliance MLA Anna Lo and Sinn Fein's MEP Martina Anderson were placed on a bonfire in the Bloomfield estate in Bangor
Preparations get underway at the Bonfire in Lanark Way in Belfast, ahead of the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations Pacemaker Press 7/7/2014
Ballyduff bonfire in Newtownabbey July 2014
Election posters of Alliance member Anna Lo on the Bonfire in Carrickfergus ahead of the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations Pacemaker Press 7/7/2014
Mount Vernon North Belfast july 2014
Young loyalists scale the huge face of the bonfire on Lanark Way, off the Shankill
Preparations get underway at the Bonfire in Lanark Way in Belfast, ahead of the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations Pic Pacemaker
Sandy Row South Belfast 2014
A statue of our the Virgin Mary placed on a loyalist bonfire at Lanark Way PACEMAKER
Bonfire on Shankill Road 2012
Bonfire on Shankill Road 2012
A statue of our lady placed on a loyalist bonfire at Lanark Way
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/07/2013 Young men pictured enjoying the Bonfire in King George Playing Fields Upper Newtownards Road Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD The 12th night bonfire celebrations get underway in Erinvale Estate in Finaghy Road South last night. The bonfire fell over close to people watching. A man runs as the bonfire starts to fall
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Press Eye - Belfast - Thursday 11th July 2013 General view of at the bonfire in the loyalist Highfield Estate in west Belfast. In Northern Ireland, the Eleventh Night or 11th Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Pacemaker press Young men from the Shankill area of Belfast put the finishing touch on their bonfire's on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press Young men from the Shankill area of Belfast put the finishing touch on their bonfire's on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire at Belvoir, South Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/07/2013 Katie-Leigh Bain,Curtis Johnston and Cherene Grundmann pictured enjoying the Bonfire in King George Playing Fields Upper Newtownards Road Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/7/13 The Bonfire in Ballyduff on the outskirt's of Belfast on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press Young men from the Shankill area of Belfast put the finishing touch on their bonfire's on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire at Belvoir, South Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
General view of the bonfire on Lanark Way off the Shankill Road in west Belfast.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 11th July 2015 - 12th Night Bonfires Pictured is Fire Fighters at the Sandy Row bonfire in South Belfast as the intense heat begins to melt objects and forces the crowds back as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 11th July 2015 - 12th Night Bonfires Pictured is Fire Fighters at the Sandy Row bonfire in South Belfast as the intense heat begins to melt objects and forces the crowds back as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 11th July 2015 - 12th Night Bonfires Pictured is the Sandy Row bonfire in South Belfast, as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 11th July 2015 - 12th Night Bonfires Pictured is firefighters using a jet hose on a building at the Sandy Row bonfire in South Belfast, as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 11th July 2015 - 12th Night Bonfires Pictured is firefighters using a jet hose on a building at the Sandy Row bonfire in South Belfast, as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 11th July 2015 - 12th Night Bonfires Pictured is firefighters using a jet hose on a building at the Sandy Row bonfire in South Belfast, as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 11th July 2015 - 12th Night Bonfires, Pictured is the Sandy Row bonfire in South Belfast, as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 11th July 2015 - 12th Night Bonfires, Pictured is the Sandy Row bonfire in South Belfast, as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 11th July 2015 - 12th Night Bonfires, Pictured is the Sandy Row bonfire in South Belfast, as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 11th July 2015 - 12th Night Bonfires, Pictured is the Sandy Row bonfire in South Belfast, as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
Belfast - Northern Ireland - Saturday 11th July 2015 - 12th Night Bonfires, Pictured is the Sandy Row bonfire in South Belfast, as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Pictured is the Donegall Road bonfire in South Belfast, as seen from the King Billy mural in sandy row as the 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland to mark the victory of King William over King James Picture by Kevin Scott / Presseye.
A man playing the flute as the Ballymacash bonfire burns in Lisburn. William Cherry/Presseye.
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
A group of women take a selfie as the Ballymacash bonfire burns in Lisburn. William Cherry/Presseye.
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Bonfire builders get to work lighting the Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn. William Cherry/Presseye.
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
The Shankill bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
The Shankill bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Bonfire builders get to work lighting the Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn. William Cherry/Presseye.
Bonfire builders get to work lighting the Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn. William Cherry/Presseye.
A man playing the flute as the Ballymacash bonfire burns in Lisburn. William Cherry/Presseye.
A young man celebrates as the Ballymacash bonfire burns in Lisburn. Pic: William Cherry/Presseye.
The controversial Chobham Street Bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
The controversial Chobham Street Bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Firefighters hose down the houses in the area after smoke begins to rise from the roof of a property next to the Chobham Street bonfire. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
A group of women take a selfie as the Ballymacash bonfire burns in Lisburn. Pic: William Cherry/Presseye.
The Shankill bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Police water canon on stand by at the Grosevnor Road police station in Belfast, Northern Ireland as 12th of July celebrations get under way across Northern Ireland. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Loyalist areas across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Loyalist areas across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Loyalist areas across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
Loyalist areas across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
A group of women take a selfie as the Ballymacash bonfire burns in Lisburn. William Cherry/Presseye.
Locals from the Village area of south Belfast enjoy watching their local bonfire as working class Loyalist area's across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Hundreds of people watch on as the 11th night bonfire collapses at the New Mossley housing estate on July 12, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Hundreds of people gather for the 11th night bonfire as it is set alight at the New Mossley housing estate on July 12, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. New Mossley is widely recognised as the largest bonfire in the province. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Hundreds of people gather for the 11th night bonfire as it is set alight at the New Mossley housing estate on July 12, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. New Mossley is widely recognised as the largest bonfire in the province. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
A Loyalist youth carrying the Union Jack walks past the 11th night bonfire at the New Mossley housing estate on July 12, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. New Mossley is widely recognised as the largest bonfire in the province. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Loyalist areas across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
Locals from the Village area of south Belfast enjoy watching their local bonfire as working class Loyalist area's across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
Loyalist areas across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
Loyalist areas across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Loyalist areas across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
Loyalist areas across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
A couple walk past the 11th night bonfire at the New Mossley housing estate on July 12, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. New Mossley is widely recognised as the largest bonfire in the province. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
A Loyalist youth carrying the Union Jack walks past the 11th night bonfire at the New Mossley housing estate on July 12, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. New Mossley is widely recognised as the largest bonfire in the province. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Iain McFarland, an Orange bandsman, plays his flute during the 11th night bonfire at the New Mossley housing estate on July 12, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Loyalist area's across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
One of the huge bonfires that towers over the houses and looks over the city of Belfast in preparation for the 11th of July celebrations when the bonfires are lit in many Protestant, unionist and loyalist areas of Northern Ireland. Photo: William Cherry / Presseye
Iain McFarland, an Orange bandsman, plays his flute during the 11th night bonfire at the New Mossley housing estate on July 12, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Hundreds of people gather for the 11th night bonfire as it is set alight at the New Mossley housing estate near Belfast, Northern Ireland. New Mossley is widely recognised as the largest bonfire in the province. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Firefighters hose down the houses after smoke begins to rise from the roof of a property near the Chobham Street bonfire. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
A man lights the controversial Chobham Street Bonfire on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
The controversial Chobham Street bonfire being lit on the Eleventh Night in Belfast. Kevin Scott/Presseye.
Bonfire builders take a rest in the New Mosley area of Belfast. Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Preparations begin around Belfast ahead of this year's annual 11th night bonfire celebrations. Jonathan Porter/Press Eye.
Haidee de Sesto and Linda Ritele pictured as they wait for the Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn to be lit for the 11th of July celebration. William Cherry/Presseye.
Haidee de Sesto and Linda Ritele pictured as they wait for the Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn to be lit for the 11th of July celebration. William Cherry/Presseye.
Haidee de Sesto and Linda Ritele pictured as they wait for the Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn to be lit for the 11th of July celebration. William Cherry/Presseye.
Haidee de Sesto and Linda Ritele pictured as they wait for the Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn to be lit for the 11th of July celebration. William Cherry/Presseye.
Loyalist areas across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
Loyalist areas across Northern Ireland get ready to kick off the 12th of July celebrations with the traditional bonfires. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
A young boy gazes in awe at a bonfire in the Roden Street area of south Belfast. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker Press.
A bonfire builder at work in the New Mosley area of Belfast. Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Youths climb a bonfire in the New Mosley area of Belfast. Niall Carson/PA Wire.
Houses are evacuated and protected at Chobham Street in east Belfast. AFP PHOTO/PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images.
A man stands on top of the bonfire as houses are evacuated and protected at Chobham Street in east Belfast. AFP PHOTO/PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images.
Houses are evacuated and protected at Chobham Street in east Belfast, Northern Ireland, as one of the biggest bonfires in east Belfast grows in size, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A youth stands on top of a bonfire on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast. AFP PHOTO/PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images.
A youth fixes a flag onto a bonfire on the lower Shankill area of Belfas. AFP PHOTO/PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images.
A youth fixes a flag onto a bonfire on the lower Shankill area of Belfast. AFP PHOTO/PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images.
A man sits on a bonfire on the lower Shankill area of Belfast. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images.
A resident of Chobham street boards up his windows to protect his home from the bonfire built nearby as people make final preparations for the 11th night bonfire on July 11. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Local youths burn palets next to the New Mossley bonfire, one of the largest in the province is seen on the outskirts of Belfast. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images.
The New Mossley bonfire, one of the largest in the province is seen on the outskirts of Belfast. AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images.
Bonfire builders at Mount Vernon in north Belfast. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Bonfire builders at Mount Vernon in north Belfast. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Bonfire builders at Mount Vernon in north Belfast. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye
Matthew Dixon and Gary Ashwood in south Belfast. Pic: Mark Marlow/Pacemaker press
Elliott Ross and Ryan Ashwood with Matthew Dixon and Gary Ashwood. Mark Marlow/Pacemaker press
Ryan Ashwood from south Belfast. Pictures: Mark Marlow/Pacemaker press
Bonfire builders at Mount Vernon in north Belfast. Photo: Matt Mackey/Presseye

Paramilitaries are not controlling most bonfire nights in Belfast, Billy Hutchinson has said.

The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) leader said it would be very difficult to exclude former prisoners from festivities in the areas they lived in.

This comes in response to a report produced for Belfast City Council by the DUP, the UUP and the PUP on bonfires and related activities in the city.

Organisations which represent loyalist ex-prisoners, including Charter NI, were consulted as part of a unionist report on bonfires published on Friday.

Belfast City councillor Mr Hutchinson said: “When does a resident become a UVF man?

“They are out there at a bonfire because their kids are growing up. Are they acting as a resident or a UVF man?

“How would you ever identify that the person doing this has been told by the UDA/UVF to do it?”

He added: “We found that they were not involved in them in a controlling way in the majority of them.”

In a joint statement on the report, the three parties said "a wide range of groups and individuals have contributed offering helpful perspectives and ideas and as a result we are confident we have captured the mood of the Unionist community".

"There are clearly those who wish the bonfire tradition to disappear or become so ‘watered down’ that it becomes meaningless. This is disappointing and is a sad reflection on their lack of tolerance and respect," they said.

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.

"In contrast, the united approach by the Unionist parties on Belfast City Council reflects a determination to encourage Unionists and Loyalists to unite and provide the leadership required around this issue.

"We will not be distracted by those with darker agendas and we urge all those in the community with an interest to continue their engagement with us, as our strategy progresses.

"This paper does not seek to ‘solve’ issues around bonfires, it is the basis on which we will approach this issues politically in Belfast."

Progressive Unionist Party leader Billy Hutchinson said most bonfires were not controlled by paramilitaries (Brian Lawless/PA)
Progressive Unionist Party leader Billy Hutchinson said most bonfires were not controlled by paramilitaries (Brian Lawless/PA)

Last year’s Eleventh Night bonfires were exceptionally busy for firefighters, with serious damage caused to apartments in Sandy Row in south Belfast.

Belfast City Council was granted a High Court injunction preventing more materials being added to loyalist bonfires at four sites in the east of the city but there were concerns about intimidation of those responsible for removing the wood.

The council has since voted in favour of a motion to tackle dangerous bonfires.

Friday’s report from the DUP, Ulster Unionists and PUP said some people believed the ethos of encouraging youngsters to collect materials for burning was being lost as bigger fires built using heavy machinery dominated the landscape.

The amalgamation of community groups organising bonfires has created larger units and more materials, and there is competition between different areas to build bigger pyres, councillors behind the report said.

They are planning a Belfast Convention, most likely after this summer’s bonfire season, to plot a way forward.

Key findings of the consultation included:

– Most fires were well organised and non-contentious.

– A small number have raised concerns over safety, anti-social behaviour and sectarian or racist graffiti.

– Many participants believed there was a concerted campaign against traditional unionist celebrations and feel alienated.

– Fly tipping remained a problem and the playing of dance music was not attractive to many.

– Serious concerns were expressed about under-age drinking and many would find alcohol-free events more attractive.

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