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SF's motion on seizure of bonfires 'to be modified'

Sinn Fein may water down its motion to give council officers in Belfast powers to order the removal of bonfire material, City Hall insiders have said.

The party has called a special meeting of Belfast City Council tonight to discuss the issue, but sources said that Sinn Fein was considering changing the wording of its original motion.

The initial motion gave officials permission "to remove bonfire materials or employ contractors to facilitate the removal of bonfire materials from council sites and other sites". But sources said it may alter the wording to say that material would be removed only from "rogue" fires.

"Sinn Fein is still debating the exact wording of the motion it will put forward to Belfast City Council," a source said. "The argument has been made that the wording in the original motion was too sweeping, so the party may amend it."

Sinn Fein yesterday said it was confident its motion would pass.

Group leader Jim McVeigh denied it was aimed at setting a precedent ahead of next year's Eleventh Night bonfires.

"This is not about every bonfire. It is about rogue illegal bonfires on both sides that pose a threat to life, public amenities and property. It is those that are facilitating hate," he said.

Alliance councillor Michael Long said: "Alliance has no issue with responsible bonfires.

"Our argument is with problem bonfires. We are flexible regarding the wording of this motion and if a change is needed to clarify the situation in the public's mind, that is fine."

Belfast Telegraph