Belfast Telegraph

Suzanne Breen: We need more action and less pontificating over annual insanity

A house catches fire at the Lower Shankill bonfire as it is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A house catches fire at the Lower Shankill bonfire as it is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A house catches fire at the Lower Shankill bonfire as it is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A man dampens down a building as a bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A man dampens down a building as a bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A man uses petrol to light a bonfire on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
Bonfire at Tennent Street in west Belfast. 11th July 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Highfield Estate bonfire in west Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Bonfire at Tennent Street in west Belfast. 11th July 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Bonfire at Tennent Street in west Belfast. 11th July 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Eleventh night bonfire in the Highfield Estate in west Belfast July 11 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Eleventh night bonfire in the Highfield Estate in west Belfast July 11 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Eleventh night bonfire in the Highfield Estate in west Belfast July 11 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Eleventh night bonfire in the Highfield Estate in west Belfast July 11 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
A huge bonfire in Tigers Bay area of Belfast before it is lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
An 11th Night bonfire at Edgarstown, Portadown, covered in at leat 30 Sinn Fein and SDLP election posters. This follows a complaint to police about another bonfire in Portadown's Corcrain Estate as a hate crime by Sinn Fein.
A huge bonfire in Tigers Bay area of Belfast before it is lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A huge bonfire in Tigers Bay area of Belfast before it is lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
Loyalists climb up one of the largest 11th night Bonfires with Irish tricolour flags in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Two women take photographs of one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. AFP/Getty Images
Children atop the huge bonfire in Sandy Row, Belfast with a banner displaying an offensive message directed at SDLP MLA Clare Hanna. PA
Loyalists gesture at the foot of one of the largest 11th night Bonfires after raising Irish tricolour flags in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Loyalists gesture from the top of one of the largest 11th night Bonfires after raising Irish tricolour flags in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A youth balances on a fence as Union flags flutter in the breeze beside one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Loyalists climb up one of the largest 11th night Bonfires with Irish tricolour flags in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A youth balances on a fence beside one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A youth balances on a fence as Union flags flutter in the breeze beside one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Foreign tourists take a tour past one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A man climbs up one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A woman steps out of a taxi to take a photograph of one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalists make final preparations to their bonfire on the Newtownards road on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A woman walks past tables stacked with sweets, fizzy drinks and crisps as Loyalists make final preparations to their bonfire on the Newtownards road on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalists make final preparations to their bonfire on the Newtownards road on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A Loyalist poses for a drone as he is filmed making final preparations to a huge bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Ballymacash bonfire is reported as the largest bonfire construct in the province. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalist Peter Stenhouse carries a wooden pallet as he makes final preparations to a bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A Loyalist poses for a drone as he is filmed making final preparations to a huge bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Ballymacash bonfire is reported as the largest bonfire construct in the province. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A Loyalist poses for a drone as he is filmed making final preparations to a huge bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Ballymacash bonfire is reported as the largest bonfire construct in the province. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A Loyalist poses for a drone as he is filmed making final preparations to a huge bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Ballymacash bonfire is reported as the largest bonfire construct in the province. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Men construct a bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
File photo dated 10/07/16 of a completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as huge bonfires, are to be lit in loyalist communities across Northern Ireland ahead of the main date in the loyal order parading season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.Issue date: Monday July 11, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
An bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
An bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Men construct a bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Men stand on a bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A bonfire under construction near Chobam Street, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Men construct a bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Pacemaker Press 11/7/2016 A on looker watches on at the preparations the for 11th night Bonfire at Ballymacash in Lisburn, ahead of the 12th of July celebration across Northern Ireland. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 11/7/2016 Preparations the for 11th night Bonfire at Donegall Road in Belfast, ahead of the 12th of July celebration across Northern Ireland. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2016: Pallets for a bonfire are stacked near Sandy Row in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2016: Pallets for a bonfire are stacked near the Comber Greenway in east Belfast, blocking a cycle path leading into the city Swings and a climbing frame have been removed from a £250,000 playground next to the Comber Greenway in east Belfast because of the dangers posed by an Eleventh Night bonfire. Homes and windows are being boarded up near the bonfire. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2016: Pallets for a bonfire are stacked near the Comber Greenway in east Belfast, blocking a cycle path leading into the city Swings and a climbing frame have been removed from a £250,000 playground next to the Comber Greenway in east Belfast because of the dangers posed by an Eleventh Night bonfire. Homes and windows are being boarded up near the bonfire. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Sunday 10th July 2016 The Bonfire at Drumtara, Ballee, in Ballymena which is stacked with tyres.
The Edgarstown bonfire in Portadown in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Photo: PressEye
The Edgarstown bonfire in Portadown in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Photo: PressEye
Ballycraigy bonfire in Antrim
Pacemaker Press Belfast 08-07-2016: Bonfire in the Loyalist Ballybeen estate in Dundonald, close the Parliament buidlings, Stormont. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 08-07-2016: Bonfire in the Loyalist Ballybeen estate in Dundonald, close the Parliament buidlings, Stormont. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th July A bonfire is prepared on the Milltown Road in south Belfast ahead of the 11th night bonfire celebrations which will take place across Northern Ireland this Monday night. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Credit - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast, UK - July 07 , Tyres on the Ballybeen Bonfire in Dundonald on July 07, 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Credit - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast, UK - July 07 , Tyres on the Ballybeen Bonfire in Dundonald on July 07, 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Pacemaker Press 5/7/2016 Preparations get well under way at Chobham Street Bonfire in East Belfast, on the run up to The 12th of July. Pic Pacemaker
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

You could fill a library with the number of reports and studies that have been published on bonfires. The latest offering came yesterday from the DUP, Ulster Unionists and the PUP.

It brought little new or enlightening to the table. Towards A Respectful Future goes over what we already know and fails to confront the problem areas head-on.

The vast majority of bonfires aren't contentious, but concerns about safety, anti-social behaviour and "sectarian or racist graffiti" have been raised about a "small number", it says.

"Some recent bonfires in east and south Belfast have been challenging for the local communities," the report states. That's the understatement of the year.

Let's recap what exactly happened last July. Four weeks after 71 people died in Grenfell Tower, a handful of idiots lit a bonfire beside a south Belfast apartment block. Those who criticised the location of the pyre in Sandy Row were told they were scaremongering or had a republican agenda.

On the Eleventh Night, I watched as flames lit up the Victoria Place apartments. Video footage captured the panicked shouts of residents inside the 10-storey tower block. Firefighters mounted a herculean operation to avert disaster.

Residents were left with cracked or shattered windows, melted windowsills and smoke damage, but it could have been much worse.

These scenes unfolded right beside the Golden Mile, our allegedly showcase streets. In no other European city would this be allowed to occur.

Local unionist politicians, who would be screaming from the rooftops if this was happening on the other side of the sectarian divide, showed absolutely zero leadership.

The same applies to the bonfire beside Chobham Street in east Belfast. In recent years dozens of homes have been boarded up and families moved to protect them from the bonfire.

In 2016 children's play equipment was removed from the new £250,000 playground beside Comber Greenway to accommodate the bonfire.

This is absolutely insane and reflects a total absence of political and community leadership. Every year brings yet another display of hand-wringing. What is needed is action, not further pontification.

Despite what some claim, paramilitary involvement in problem bonfires is obvious.

If the rest of us went out and started burning material jeopardising public safety, the police and other statutory agencies would be down on us like a ton of bricks.

But firefighters in Sandy Row turned their hoses on the apartment block, rather than the bonfire endangering it, because it was feared that doing the latter would result in a riot.

If it was just a handful of youths building the bonfire near Chobham Street, the situation would have been dealt with long ago.

It's because the PSNI knows exactly who is pulling the strings behind-the-scenes that no action is taken. Police do not want a confrontation with the east Belfast UVF. The desire to avoid a repeat of a flag protest-type situation is what's fuelling the faint-heartedness.

The report says many of those interviewed believe there is a "concerted campaign against traditional unionist celebrations including bonfires".

Even if this is so, unionist political and community figures give their enemies ample ammunition. The time for publishing reports is over. Call a halt to those problem pyres which generate negative headlines every year.

Belfast Telegraph

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