‘Steps taken to protect homes’ near bonfire site

The Housing Executive has said it will take steps to protect houses close to the site of a contentious bonfire on Oakwood Road.

A spokesperson for the housing authority indicated that an inter-agency meeting was held over the structure at Carrick Town Hall on Thursday afternoon, with a number of community representatives present.

The controversial bonfire attracted media attention last week following the circulation of a number of photos on social media, which showed a significant number of tyres on top of the structure.

“After consultation with the Northern Ireland Fire Rescue Service and a representative from the community, the Housing Executive will be erecting screening at the front of a number of agreed properties close to the bonfire site, as well as boarding up windows and doors at a number of properties,” a spokesperson for the Executive said.

“Bonfires are traditional events and we work with the local community to try to ensure that they are safe and pose no damage to local property.”

In a statement, the PSNI said they were ‘aware’ of community concerns with regard to the site.

“Whilst not the lead organisation on the issue of bonfires, we understand we have a role to play and are engaged in conversations with other statutory organisations relating to this matter,” the statement read.

“Whilst bonfires themselves are not illegal, disposing and burning waste tyres on a bonfire is an illegal activity. Bonfires can be a source of considerable annoyance and are potentially a dangerous source of pollution. We will fully investigate any complaints in relation to breach of the peace, or allegations of anti-social behaviour or disorder in relation to bonfires.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs Jr said he had been contacted by a number of residents who were concerned at the scale of the bonfire, as well as its proximity to a major power line.

He said: “Given the temperatures that such a fire would reach, I am concerned at the risks to both local residential property and the NI electricity grid.”

Meanwhile, the bonfire attracted further controversy over the weekend after a number of election posters were placed at the site, including those of Alliance representative Anna Lo.

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said: “This is a hate filled crime which is an example of gross intolerance. It is hypocritical for the organisers of these bonfires to call for respect for their culture when they are burning posters of politicians.

“The people who are seeking to burn our posters are obviously threatened by our message of building a shared future free from the divisions of the past. Their actions will not stop us from working to bring an end to the politics of ‘them and us’.”

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