Masked loyalists defy court bonfire order

Masked men on top of the bonfire at inverary playing fields yesterday afternoon
Masked men on top of the bonfire at inverary playing fields yesterday afternoon

Masked loyalists appear to have broken a court order banning them from extending an Eleventh night bonfire in Belfast.

The loyalists, wearing balaclavas and scarves over their faces, could be seen on Monday afternoon using a cherry picker to add wooden pallets onto the top of the bonfire at a site in the east of the city that is at the centre of a controversial court ruling.

Belfast City Council secured a High Court injunction on Friday preventing more materials being added to four loyalist bonfires in Belfast amid health and safety concerns.

However, on Monday at Inverary playing fields – one of the sites covered by the injunction – pallets were being added to the bonfire.

Video and photographs taken by the Press Association shows piles of wooden pallets being lifted onto the bonfire and then stacked on top by two masked men.

Loyalists in east Belfast have been left angry by the court injunction.

The Northern Ireland Police Federation – the body that represents rank and file police officers in the province – warned that police resources could be stretched amid growing fears of tension around the burning of the Eleventh night bonfires.

Federation chairman Mark Lindsay said he hoped “those involved are able to sort out outstanding issues.”

He warned: “What we don’t want is a drain on already stretched resources.”

Sinn Fein said they believe that all dangerous materials should be removed from the sites in the east of the city by police and the council.

However, unionists have accused the republican party of waging a “cultural war” on loyalists.

A joint statement by the DUP and PUP said there has been an attempt to “discredit” the Twelfth celebrations, and called for calm.