11/07/2018

East Belfast Bonfire Set Alight Hours After Court Order

A large bonfire in east Belfast was set alight hours after a court ordered its height to be reduced over safety concerns.

On Tuesday, the High Court ruled the Department for Infrastructure must take steps to reduce the height of the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire to no more than three metres.

Belfast City Council said the judge made the order taking into account a number of factors including "elected representative concerns, community fear and apprehension, and significant risk to property and life".

However, as police moved in to secure the site to enable contractors to safely remove material, the bonfire was set alight prematurely in the early hours of Wednesday and missiles were thrown at police. Dozens of riots vans and officers have remained in the area overnight.
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Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: "Colleagues from Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service attended to protect a number of nearby properties. We also received reports of a number of vehicles having been set on fire in East Belfast.

"It is disappointing that some people decided to resort to violence as attempts were made to reduce significant threat to the life and property of local people, due to the size and location of this bonfire.

"Over recent months there has been a concerted effort by a wide range of agencies and community representatives to resolve this completely avoidable situation. I would like to thank those people for their efforts in trying to bring about a resolution to this matter .We all hoped that the bonfire builders would see sense. Regrettably this hasn't proved to be the case.

"Moving forward, PSNI will continue to liaise with partner agencies, local communities and political representatives to address concerns linked to bonfires. While PSNI is not the lead agency on bonfires and have limited legislative power in respect of bonfires or waste which has been illegally disposed at sites, we will continue to support other statutory bodies to carry out their roles if requested."

(LM)

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