Belfast Telegraph

UVF-linked group reaches agreement to move Belfast bonfire away from homes

By Staff Reporter

A contentious bonfire in east Belfast will be moved so that it does not endanger homes, a loyalist group has announced.

The East Belfast Community Initiative (EBCI), which is linked to the terrorist UVF, said an agreement had been reached with bonfire builders at Bloomfield Walkway to move it to a safer area.

The move came after DUP councillor George Dorrian intervened to help de-escalate tensions after bonfire material was stored at a car park off the Upper Newtownards Road.

The EBCI said the bonfire will move away from the area to a "safe space".

It also said the height of the pyre will not endanger any homes.

EBCI spokesman Jamie Bryson said: "This is another positive local agreement and once again demonstrates the productivity of self-regulation.

"No unionist worth their salt is ever going to be regulated in their cultural expression by statutory agencies.

"Self-regulation in order to advance our core purpose of enhancing and protecting unionist cultural expression is the only way to resolve contentious issues."

In July 2015 the bonfire forced 50 families to flee their homes at Chobham Street.

The following year a play park was moved to facilitate the bonfire and houses were boarded up before the Eleventh Night.

In May last year 2,500 pallets were amassed at the site.

A meeting took place between a new local community group and Belfast City Council officials.

The group asked the council to remove and store pallets until nearer to July 11.

The pallets were lifted and stored at a cost of £3,000.

But in June they were stolen from the depot they were being stored in.

Nationalists accused the council of facilitating illegal bonfires and an investigation was ordered.

The EBCI said: "There has been considerable attention on this bonfire in recent years and bonfire builders have been continuously let down by statutory agencies.

"This lack of positive statutory engagement and attempted criminalisation has led to understandable intransigence. However the East Belfast Community Initiative believes in the principle of positive self-regulation.

"Following protracted consultation with local bonfire builders and DUP councillor George Dorrian, this positive agreement has been secured. The bonfire will move away from the contentious area to a safe space and the height of the bonfire will be such that it will not endanger the homes of any members of our community."

Earlier this week the ECBI announced a new protocol for the flying of loyalist flags.

However, other parties expressed scepticism at the move, saying that it would not prevent intimidating UVF terrorist flags being flown for four months of the year.

Belfast Telegraph

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