Belfast Telegraph

Police, council and fire service have to act if unsafe bonfires lit: Alliance

MLA says beacons are 'only way to go' for one site

By Jonathan Bell

The Alliance party has said that the statutory authorities - that is the police, fire service and Belfast City Council - should act if unsafe bonfires are lit on the Eleventh night.

There has been confusion over the exact meaning of an injunction sought by Belfast City Council over the building of certain bonfires in east Belfast.

Sinn Fein have said they can't be lit and a contractor has been appointed to move in and remove the material, while Alliance has said it means no more material can be added to the pyres.

So far no unionist party on the council has made comment on the matter. It is believed all the parties in the council have supported the move.

Read more:

Belfast bonfire injunction: Full text of order and locations of sites concerned

Contractor employed to remove Belfast bonfire wood, Sinn Fein councillor McVeigh claims

Bonfire injunction: 'What is the council and PSNI going to do... take about 700 of us to court?'  

Jamie Bryson stokes tensions with councillor bonfire ultimatum 

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle told the BBC Stephen Nolan show said that should unsafe bonfires be lit, statutory authorities need to act.

He said: "This is a serious issue and we need to make sure it is dealt with in a serious way. This measure applies to everyone. It is not targeting loyalists or bonfires it is a response to the immediate danger residents, businesses and public property are in, in east Belfast.

"The Ravenscroft Avenue bonfire would seem to be around 40ft tall and it is barely metres from homes, businesses and public property. So it now poses serious risk to public safety and obviously statutory bodies have to limit that risk."

The east Belfast representative said there was a need for "greater clarity" from the police and council on the injunction and what it entails.

"My understanding is that this is about preventing further materials being added to the sites," he continued.

"This is not an attack on loyalist or bonfires, it is about limiting risk. Engagement is needed but there has to be point recognise structures are not safe.

"The fire service say that for every one metre high a bonfire is, it should be five metres away from structures. On those grounds it is almost impossible that anything other than safer alternative beacon should be lit at that Ravenscroft Avenue site. This should be the starting position.

"If the bonfires are not reduced proactively we now put pressure on our emergency services. We are applying significant resources to what Jamie Bryson referred to as 'cultural expressions'."

The injunction received by the council does not specifically address the lighting of the bonfires. Asked repeatedly on what should happen if the bonfires are lit, Mr Lyttle said: "I think it would be remiss not to acknowledge the significant tensions around these. 

"My party position is that for the structures in certain locations that pose significant risk statutory agencies have responsibility to their staff... but they will have to respond to ensure safety.

"Ideally voluntarily [the bonfires] would be reduced [in size]... but statutory agencies will have to respond if not.

"They need to be made safe by whatever means the statutory authorities have."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph