Tyres and “toxic materials” which had been dumped at a loyalist bonfire site in Belfast have now been removed from the site and are awaiting collection by the council.
DUP councillor Dean McCullough said that he contacted his council colleagues to have them removed from the site on Adam Street and that his main priority is to “de-escalate tension” in the area.
Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin had earlier yesterday called for the “immediate removal” of the items from the bonfire, warning that the health of residents living near the Adam Street and Duncairn Gardens interface would be put at risk if rubber tyres and plastic were set alight during Eleventh Night celebrations.
The North Belfast MLA had added: “Those involved in building this pyre have moved this bonfire closer to the interface but have now added toxic materials which pose a threat to people’s health and the environment.”
Later, Mr McCullough said that the tyres and toxic materials have since been removed with the “full support of the cultural bonfire builders.”
"We are working to de-escalate tension and it would appear others outside Tiger’s Bay are working to stir up tension,” he told Belfast Telegraph.
“Our party set out clearly our long term goal of regenerating the Adam Street site, co-designed and in consultation with the Tiger’s Bay community.”
He said Stormont departments had been lobbied about the regeneration options for the site, ”but we must stress that those options have to come from Tigers Bay community and have to have support of that community. This will be our long term goal, with our short term goal aiming for a peaceful Eleventh Night with celebrations and the coming together of the community.”
"I would urge others in other political parties to join with us in those objectives,” he added.
A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “Police have no specific statutory responsibility to remove bonfires or waste material including tyres which have been left at bonfire sites.
"Primacy for these matters lies with the relevant land owners and where relevant the NI Environment Agency (NIEA). The role of police is to, where feasible and within the scope of our powers, provide necessary and proportionate assistance to landowners and competent statutory agencies in the discharge of their functions.
"In respect of Adam Street police have referred this matter to the NIEA who we understand have commenced an investigation. We also understand that problem materials are to be removed through engagement with the bonfire builders.”
Last July, nationalist politicians had called for the removal of the bonfire, saying homes in the neighbouring New Lodge had come under attack. But unionist politicians rejected this, insisting it was an expression of culture and accusing nationalist leaders of raising tensions.