Paula Bradshaw MLA: MP should know that bonfire damage to apartments is about the rule of law, not about insurance

The response of newly-elected MP Emma Little Pengelly to the damage caused to apartments at Victoria Square by a precarious bonfire is hopelessly inadequate.

Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 12:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:17 pm
The apartment blocks near the Sandy Row bonfire that were damaged by the heat, despite being hosed by several fire crew members throughout the entire blaze. Picture by Pacemaker: Arthur Allison

To start with, had she in fact been interested in the concerns of residents of the apartments, she would have known that their prime concern is not insurance. What actually happened on the night of 11th is that apartment block residents faced serious danger, concerned at any moment that the damage could extend from broken glass to become a fire engulfing their homes and endangering those living in them, including children.

No elected representative should even have to hesitate to recognise that such a situation – brought on by the size and location of the bonfire causing the danger – is utterly unacceptable and never to be repeated.

What also happened that night was that the bonfire tipping over endangered fire fighters in attendance, and action had to be taken to avoid serious injury. Fire fighters are public servants, and again no public representative should have the hesitate before recognising that placing public servants in such danger is not to be tolerated.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

This is before we even get to the issue of insurance, with the hassle and future rises in premiums the whole event entails. As one resident put it, those in the apartments were the victims of this incident – yet they will be left to pay for it. What sort of nonsense is that?

Fundamentally this issue is not about bonfires, but about the basic rule of law. No one has the right to shirk Health and Safety regulations at a public event, regardless of what form it takes. No public representative could miss this obvious point.

When she became MP, Mrs Pengelly claimed she would represent all. Yet in this instance, and not for the first time in her short tenure, she has chosen to back a tiny minority of irresponsible people over local residents and public servants.

It is becoming clear where her narrow sympathies lie.

Paula Bradshaw, Alliance MLA, South Belfast