Bonfires are an enjoyable spectacle but leadership is needed with regard to them

A letter from Arnold Carton:

The Tiger’s Bay bonfire in North Belfast. Bonfires are not going away but everey so often there are events which should worry and embarrass unionists
The Tiger’s Bay bonfire in North Belfast. Bonfires are not going away but everey so often there are events which should worry and embarrass unionists

The tradition, skill and expertise displayed in some of our 11th July bonfires cannot be denied.

Many of us from the unionist tradition enjoyed the spectacle of bonfires during our youth and bonfires are not going away.

But unfortunately, every few years we see events that should worry and embarrass unionist leaders.

Letter to the editor

On Sunday night I observed in Belfast two small bonfires built directly on public roads, preventing the passing of cars and inevitably damaging the road surface.

Even worse are the films of dangerous bonfire collapses and the video of someone on fire running away from a bonfire in Ballysillan, Belfast.

It is time for unionist politicians to provide some leadership.

Why not try to divert the competition between Belfast estates for the biggest, most spectacular bonfire into a one-week Festival of Orange.

Run a one week structured bonfire building competition at specified locations with very clear rules, sponsored by the council and judged by elected representatives.

Mix this with band competitions over a series of nights near the bonfire locations.

Ensure that bonfires are lit earlier in the evening and follow sensible safety rules so that so that families feel safe bringing their children.

The Festival of Orange could bring in other activities not usually associated with the 12th, storytelling, Scots and Irish Dancing etc. (The YouTube video by Dr Ian Malcom singing The Sash in Irish on the banks of the Boyne is an example of the creative ideas that could be explored.)

Is it conceivable that a West Belfast nationalist estates could be tempted to take part in a bonfire competition and some of the other activities?

I know that some people and some organisations will prefer to keep bonfires as they are, but could we provide leadership so that our bonfire culture evolves into something safer that all can enjoy?

Arnold Carton, Belfast BT6

——— ———

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Ben Lowry

Acting Editor