Two Belfast bonfires rebuilt after tyres removed voluntarily

Bonfire builders at the Avoniel Leisure Centre site voluntarily remove tyres from their bonfire. 'Photo Pacemaker Press
Bonfire builders at the Avoniel Leisure Centre site voluntarily remove tyres from their bonfire. 'Photo Pacemaker Press
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Tyres have been removed from two bonfires at the centre of planned action by Belfast City Council.

The local authority yesterday decided it would be in the “public interest” to “remove materials” from the two sites in the east of the city due to environmental concerns.

Tyres being removed from the bonfire at Avoniel Leisure Centre in east Belfast. The pyre was later rebuilt.

Tyres being removed from the bonfire at Avoniel Leisure Centre in east Belfast. The pyre was later rebuilt.

However, bonfire builders subsequently took it upon themselves to demolish the bonfires and remove the tyres themselves.

READ MORE: ‘Removal of tyres from bonfires does not dilute unionism,’ says PUP

The two pyres – one at Avoniel leisure centre and the other near Connswater shopping centre – have now been rebuilt. Both bits of land are owned by the council.

It is understood the bonfire near Connswater has been relocated to King George playing fields, close to the Oval football ground.

It is unclear at this stage whether the actions taken by the bonfire builders will be enough to prevent the council from moving in and removing further materials.

On Sunday, council contractors accompanied by police removed 1,800 tyres from the London Road bonfire site in Belfast.

READ MORE: Bonfire builders ‘did not threaten’ leisure centre staff

Robert Girvin, from the East Belfast Cultural Collective which represents a number of bonfires, said the decision to send “armoured Land Rovers and contractors” to the London Road site at the weekend had “caused tension”.

“We prefer to celebrate rather than defend our culture,” he said.

“The young people building the bonfire decided late last night they didn’t want that to happen and decided to remove the tyres of their own volition.”

Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Ulster programme, Sinn Fein councillor Ciaran Beattie said he beliveved the council should continue with its intended plans to move in and dismantle the bonfire at Avoniel, claiming the height of the pyre still represents “a danger to surrounding buildings”.

However, senior Ornageman Rev Mervyn Gibson urged the council to respond with “common sense and positivity”.

He adde: “The lads took a decision themselves to remove the tyres and local people where there supporting them saying it was the right decision. The tyres are sitting there waiting to be collected.

“There has always been a bonfire at that Avoniel site, and the bonfire I saw being rebuilt there last night certainly isn’t a threat to any buildings.”