Bonfire set alight after court orders that it must be reduced in height
A controversial bonfire in east Belfast that a court ruled must be reduced in size has been set alight prematurely.
The massive pyre at Bloomfield Walkway was lit in the early hours of this morning.
A High Court order late on Tuesday night stated that the bonfire should be reduced in size as it was a danger to surrounding homes.
In the early hours of this morning, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue service was called in to try and control the blaze and protect nearby houses.
A large police operation was also put in place, with more than 100 officers in riot gear tasked to the scene.
Police came under attack from a number of people throwing bottles and other missiles.
There were no arrests made at the scene.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd commented: “Unfortunately, as police moved in to secure the site to enable the contractor to safely remove material, people on the site lit the bonfire with total disregard for the safety of the local community and threw missiles at police. 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.”
On Tuesday evening a judge directed the Department for Infrastructure to take immediate steps to reduce the height of the bonfire amid concerns the controversial 80 pallet-high construction posed a serious risk to neighbouring homes.
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