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Tigers Bay bonfire should be allowed to remain says Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

A controversial north Belfast bonfire should be allowed to remain, according to the DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

Mr Donaldson visited the bonfire site at Adam Street in Tigers Bay on Thursday evening, alongside deputy leader Paula Bradley and other party colleagues.

Speaking to a crowd who gathered, Mr Donaldson said he made clear to the PSNI Chief Constable Simon Bryne that the bonfire should be “permitted” and said he thought it was the “appropriate response” that community events and the 11th night lighting of the pyre should continue.

The group responsible for the bonfire were due to meet Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon, after the SDLP politician said the bonfire cannot “proceed” as a result of being in an interface area and built on land owned by her department.

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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Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he met with the Chief Constable earlier on Thursday, telling the crowd gathered in the area that the community should be “facilitated”.

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Dean McCullough, DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson and Paula Bradley visit the Adam Street bonfire in Tigers Bay, North Belfast on July 8, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Dean McCullough, DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson and Paula Bradley visit the Adam Street bonfire in Tigers Bay, North Belfast on July 8, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Dean McCullough, DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson and Paula Bradley visit the Adam Street bonfire in Tigers Bay, North Belfast on July 8, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

“We made clear to the Chief Constable, where people are engaging in the tradition of building a bonfire, where they are doing it peacefully where they are doing it in a way that is designed, that there is distance between here and the community in Ardoyne - that this tradition should not only be permitted, but should be facilitated, in that people are wanting to pursue their traditional activities at this time of the year,” he said.

“Equally, we accord to others in the community what we ask for ourselves and I think that is a really important principle, that you as a community are not asking for something that you don’t expect from another community.

“We made it clear to the Chief Constable that we think the appropriate response is for the bonfire to remain, that we trust the community leadership to ensure it passes off peacefully and in a way that you can celebrate your culture and tradition as part of our community and to do so in a way that should be respected.

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DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson visits the Adam Street bonfire in Tigers Bay, North Belfast on July 8, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson visits the Adam Street bonfire in Tigers Bay, North Belfast on July 8, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson visits the Adam Street bonfire in Tigers Bay, North Belfast on July 8, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

“At a time when tensions are already high around the protocol, you just want the right to have your evening here, to burn your bonfire.”

Sinn Fein’s Caral Ni Chuilin told the BBC on Thursday residents in the New Lodge were being “tortured” with anti-social behaviour at the bonfire site.

She said residents complained of sectarian chanting, abuse and "missiles" - including golf balls and masonry - being thrown into their area.

"I'm not interested in whipping up tensions or making this situation any worse, because it's really bad, it really is bad," she added.

"I believe it's up to the bonfire builders and unionist politicians to use their influence to move that back off an interface, I think that would be a good gesture.”


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