Belfast Telegraph

Video: Concerns over two east Belfast Eleventh Night bonfires

As material piles up for Eleventh Night, veteran unionist says planned pyre at leisure centre so dangerous it must be dismantled.

Councillor Jim Rodgers said the bonfire, at Avoniel Leisure Centre, could pose a danger to nearby businesses, as well as a block of flats housing elderly people.

And although he is not opposed to a bonfire, he said this one could potentially lead to the same kind of disruption caused by the huge Chobham Street pyre last year.

"It is too close to homes and premises which could be damaged by the fire," said Mr Rodgers

"We are trying to bring employment into east Belfast so we can't have people deciding willy-nilly to build bonfires wherever they want.

"We are prepared to work with the bonfire builders and to negotiate, but at the end of the day, if life and limb are put at risk, we will have to say: 'Sorry, but you can't build it there'."

"I am not against there being a bonfire," added Mr Rodgers.

"I used to be involved in gathering materials for them myself when I was young, but then we always had them on wasteland so that no one was put at risk.

"What we don't want is a repeat of what went on in Chobham Street last year. Residents in that street were worried sick. They had to leave their homes - it was horrendous.

"Many said to me: 'Who do these people think they are coming round here and building bonfires against the residents' wishes?'

"It's taxpayers that foot the bill, so we don't want residents inconvenienced or properties destroyed."

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