| 13.7°C Belfast

Two Belfast bonfires set ablaze before Eleventh Night

Department for Infrastructure says Tigers Bay pyre is ‘not in a suitable location’

Two Eleventh Night bonfires in Belfast were lit in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with one group claiming it was set alight by members of its own community.

West Belfast’s Shankill Road and east Belfast’s Pitt Park pyres were both set on fire.

Bonfire builders in Pitt Park believe the bonfire was lit early by members of its own community.

Close

General views of the Lower Shankill bonfire that was burnt overnight on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph.

General views of the Lower Shankill bonfire that was burnt overnight on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph.

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views of the Lower Shankill bonfire that was burnt overnight on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph.

Around 1,000 pallets will now be donated to the Pitt Park pyre organisers from another bonfire site in Co Antrim.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Close

General views of the Pitt Park bonfire that was burnt overnight on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph.

General views of the Pitt Park bonfire that was burnt overnight on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph.

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views of the Pitt Park bonfire that was burnt overnight on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph.

Meanwhile, the Department for Infrastructure, which is responsible for the public land where the controversial Tigers Bay bonfire is located in north Belfast, has said it is “not in a suitable location”.

The Department added that it “hopes” a local resolution can be found on an alternative site.

The pyre on Adam Street has been described as the “most contentious” in Northern Ireland by Chief Constable Simon Byrne, as it faces a peace wall dividing the loyalist area with the republican New Lodge.

Justice Minister Naomi Long, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey are understood to have discussed a number of controversial bonfires during a meeting on Monday evening – including the future of the Tigers Bay pyre.

Close

The Tigers Bay bonfire. Pic: Pacemaker .

The Tigers Bay bonfire. Pic: Pacemaker .

The Tigers Bay bonfire. Pic: Pacemaker .

The meeting came after police and Belfast council-hired contractors removed an Eleventh Night bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway in east Belfast in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A teenager was arrested during the operation on suspicion of disorderly behaviour.

Rumours were rife on social media on Monday night that contractors would remove the pyre in Tigers Bay, but the bonfire remained in place yesterday.

An ominous sign has now been placed on the 10-metre high bonfire, stating: “Move at your own risk.”

A spokesperson for Belfast City Council said its approach to managing bonfires is led by elected members.

“A member-led decision making process has been agreed to consider issues and make decisions on a site-by-site basis,” stated the council.

“Council will continue to engage with community representatives to minimise any potential negative impact of bonfires on local residents, businesses, customers and property.”

A Department for Communities spokesperson said: “The Department… are of the opinion that the bonfire is not appropriate at this interface location.”

The Belfast Telegraph also contacted the Department of Justice for comment.

Yesterday, Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill visited residents in the Clonard and New Lodge areas of Belfast yesterday.

Ms O'Neill said residents had told her of being "hemmed in" their homes by bonfires.

She said: "In advance of the weekend and a very tense time of the year, I wanted to speak to residents around their own experiences and their own feelings for the incoming days.

"It is very clear, I don't think there is anywhere you would go in any civilised society would you see a situation where residents feel hemmed in or you would see a situation where people actually have cages on the back of their homes to protect their families and to protect their property.

"I don't think that is an acceptable situation and I don't think it is tolerable."

Ms O'Neill added: "I would encourage all those in political leadership to ensure that they do all they can to dial down the tension, that we encourage communities to work together.

"There is no space for bonfires to be on interface areas. So I think our priority in the coming days has to be around the protection of lives, people's safety, the protection of people's property, and it has to be about dialling down that tension.

"As one lady put it, she feels hemmed in and that has been her experience every year for as long as she's lived here and I don't think that's acceptable, so more must be done and political leadership needs to kick in."


Top Videos



Privacy