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East Belfast unionist councillors urge 'safe and responsible' bonfires

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Eleventh night celebrations take place at Pitt Park in east Belfast last year. (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Eleventh night celebrations take place at Pitt Park in east Belfast last year. (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Eleventh night celebrations take place at Pitt Park in east Belfast last year. (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Unionist councillors in east Belfast have urged bonfires be built safely and responsibly in the weeks ahead.

Councillors from the DUP, UUP and PUP came together to release a joint statement ahead of the start of the marching season.

With coronavirus restrictions gradually decreasing hundreds of people people are set to gather for events including the Eleventh night bonfires and Twelfth of July celebrations.

A number of Eleventh night bonfires are traditionally held in the east Belfast area, including at the Lower Newtownards Road, Avoniel Road and Pitt Park.

“Under no circumstances should any bonfire be a threat to life or property," the joint statement read.

"To do otherwise undermines the very principles that the Unionist and Loyalist tradition are built upon. We must also remember the hardship many people have suffered over the past year, to compound this with unsafe materials and anti social behaviour is unthinkable.

"We urge all those involved in bonfire building to engage with the agencies who are working to ensure safe communities, and that life and property is protected.

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"We want to see safe and enjoyable bonfires and beacons, which will happen if all concerned work together."

In 2019 a major row broke out over a large bonfire in the car park of Avoniel Leisure Centre.

Belfast City Council wanted the bonfire material removed from the site, but contractors pulled out after threats were painted nearby.

After a stand off the bonfire was eventually lit as planned.

Many bonfires were cancelled or scaled down last year as a result of the pandemic.


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