Belfast Telegraph

Progress has been made: community worker

The Corcrain Drive bonfire in Portadown is lit
The Corcrain Drive bonfire in Portadown is lit
The Corcrain Drive bonfire in Portadown being constructed
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Community workers in Portadown have welcomed positive steps taken by a number of local bonfire builders.

On Wednesday night a contentious bonfire was set ablaze in the Corcrain Drive/Redmanville area of Portadown, which forced firefighters to douse nearby houses with water to prevent damage.

While the destructive scenes have been the focus of attention, Keith McCann (50), from the Regenerate group, said it was also important to recognise progress in the area.

Working with the Action for Community Transformation Initiative, he said nine bonfire organisers from the Portadown, Armagh, Banbridge and Lurgan areas had agreed to changes this year.

"There's so many bad news stories about bonfires, but this is a good one," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The key messages being promoted are self-regulation and consultation with the community.

"The community is more than just bonfire builders. So we've asked people not to burn political posters to start with.

"The organisers we've spoken to have agreed to abide by this. So, really it's a mindset change."

He said one example was the Edgarstown area of Portadown, where bonfire builders proactively rebuilt a stack of pallets that was in danger of falling on to a busy main road.

"I actually felt very proud of it because this is self-regulation in operation," said Mr McCann.

"We don't do the norm, where we disappear for the rest of the year after the Eleventh Night, we want to keep talking."

He admits making progress with the Corcrain Drive organisers had been a step too far this year.

"When you're embedded in the community as we are, sometimes you just know if it will be a yes or no before you even ask," he said.

"So we've started with the bonfires we have a good relationship with, which gives us a better chance of a good outcome."

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