Charlie Lawson: I’ve no regrets over lighting Eleventh Night bonfire

Ulster actor Charlie Lawson has made it clear that Arlene Foster did not ask him to light an Eleventh Night bonfire in Co Tyrone.

By Graeme Cousins
Thursday, 21st July 2022, 5:45 pm

Some news agencies reported that the former DUP leader turned GB news presenter asked Mr Lawson to light the bonfire at Roughan in Fivemiletown, but he said it was the organisers who asked him, and he was happy to say yes.

The actor, who plays Jim McDonald in Coronation Street, has come under fire – largely from anonymous Twitter users – after images of him lighting the bonfire were shared online.

The Northern Ireland Environmental Agency (NIEA) has said it is considering Mr Lawson’s actions with regard to the Waste and Contaminated Land Order 1997.

Charlie Lawson at the Roughan bonfire

Mr Lawson said: “This first I knew about it was when a journalist told me. The Environment Agency haven’t been in touch. I expect that they had absolutely nothing to do with it. I suspect it was all stirred up by the people who have an issue with me.

“It’s been going on for months, it wasn’t much of a surprise to me. These trolls, they’ve nothing better to do it seems to me.

“There were 256 bonfires, I think, across Northern Ireland. We had a tragic incident a few days before which was awful, most of the other bonfires went off without a hitch, it just so happens that someone famous happened to be one of the bonfires. I’m easy meat for those people.”

He added: “One thing I’d like to make perfectly clear is that Arlene Foster did not ask me to light the bonfire.

“She invited me to the bonfire, to the celebration. I was doing nothing that evening, I was sitting in my hotel room in Armagh, waiting to broadcast on the Twelfth.

“When I was there I was asked by several members who were fronting the gathering would I light the bonfire, it was them that asked me, not Arlene, and I was happy to say yes.”

Mr Lawson said there is a significant minority in Northern Ireland who want to see bonfires totally banned.

“They are the ones who get vocal and start jumping on me,” he said.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want to prosecute me bring it on.

“I suspect the Environment Agency have a lot better things to do.

“They’d be far better employed going down to Crawfordsburn and Helen’s Bay and punishing people for leaving their rubbish all over the place. It’s a disgrace.”