Bonfires are a wonderful ritual but safety is paramount

Morning View
Morning View

The Ulster Unionist councillor in Newtownabbey John Scott said something interesting yesterday.

Urging his colleagues to speak out about the bonfire court injunction, he said: “Councillors, MLAs, MPs, they are public representatives and surely they should be held to account for their actions. They could let the people know why they did it – there could be a good reason.”

Mr Scott’s last few words there are important: there could be a good reason.

And so there could. Some of these bonfires have clearly been built to very dangerous heights. Some of them are too close to property – far too close in some cases.

It in no way detracts from the wonderful ritual of 11th night bonfires to observe as much.

In fact, the dangers of bonfires could hardly be more relevant now, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower horror, which showed the tragedy that can come from conflagrations.

The loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson wrote on these pages yesterday about the cultural threat to loyalism and unionism.

The DUP leader Arlene Foster has talked about the demonisation of Orange culture, the chief executive of the Order, Iain Carlisle, spoke in similar terms last week in an interview in this newspaper.

All of these voices are plainly right. Republicans talk the language or respect and rights and equality but act the actions of intolerance and bitterness and devious opposition.

As the loyal orders well know, contrived opposition flares up in different locations and then it becomes a supposedly contested space until the Parades Commission weighs in, often ultimately in favour of dissident agitators.

But it is not inconsistent to acknowledge that truth and to be gravely concerned about a small number of bonfires. 
This editorial was written as the bonfires were being lit. We hope there will be no problems, and that next year the dangers can be discussed frankly.