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Tigers Bay bonfire builders to meet with Infrastructure Minister

Nichola Mallon said the pyre cannot “proceed”


The Tigers Bay bonfire. Pic: Pacemaker

The Tigers Bay bonfire. Pic: Pacemaker

The Tigers Bay bonfire. Pic: Pacemaker

The Tigers Bay bonfire group will have a meeting with Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon to find a “practical solution” over the controversial pyre.

Acting on behalf of the group, loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson wrote in a letter to Ms Mallon that it would be “somewhat surprising” if the request to meet was rejected, given her “commitment to dialogue”.

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the Department for Infrastructure confirmed the meeting request had been received, before adding: “The Minister will meet with representatives of the group this evening to discuss the issues relating to the Adam St bonfire”.

The bonfire on Adam Street in north Belfast faces an interface that separates the loyalist Tigers Bay with the republican New Lodge.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne said the bonfire was the “most contentious” in Northern Ireland.

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North Belfast MLA Ms Mallon said the bonfire cannot “proceed” as a result of being in an interface area and built on land owned by her department.

She said the pyre was in an “unsuitable location” and did not rule out the possibility of legal action being taken.

The letter to Ms Mallon was sent on Thursday and stated that Sinn Fein have made “unsubstantiated” claims about concerns from New Lodge residents.

“In light of the above, and the huge tension within the community - which the bonfire group are keen to work with you to resolve for the benefit of all - I would ask for a speedy response to the request for a meeting,” Mr Bryson said in the letter.

“Moreover, if you are considering taking formal legal action then please serve notice of this on the bonfire group in order that they can take legal advice and consider their options in regard to resisting the interference in their Article 10 and Article 11 ECHR rights.

“Given the issues raised and the PSNI’s involvement, I have copied this correspondence to the PSNI Chief Constable and District Commander.”

The Department of Infrastructure has been asked for a response to the meeting request.

Meanwhile, the UUP’s north Belfast representative Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston, said that the removal of the bonfire in is not justified and has the potential to set back local community relations.

“I have visited the site and witnessed at first hand that it is not at an interface, does not encroach on the nationalist community and is not visible to the nationalist community, unless they are in the high rise New Lodge flats, from which just about all of Belfast is visible,” stated Ms Corr-Johnston.

“The reality is that this bonfire is not excessive in size, is smaller than in previous years, has no tyres on it, is located within a unionist community and is 60 feet away from the peace line which runs the length of Duncairn Gardens.

“The removal of the Adam Street bonfire is not justified and would cause more harm than good.

“Some political parties need to use a now common phrase – ‘dial down their rhetoric’ – and stop flexing their muscles because they are only hyping up tensions.”

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