Police move in as workers '˜remove' bonfire in east Belfast

A major police operation is ongoing in east Belfast as contractors move in to remove an Eleventh Night bonfire.

Wednesday, 11th July 2018, 2:26 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th July 2018, 6:46 pm
Police cordoned off the Albertbridge Road as bonfire materials were removed from nearby Cluan Place.

It’s understood officers have cordoned off the area around Cluan Place, just off Albertbridge Road, while workers remove pallets and other materials, which had been piled high just yards from people’s houses.

Loyalist spokesman Jamie Bryson claimed police had dragged people from their homes during the operation.

“I have never seen anything like this in my life. The policing operation is astonishing. There must be 40 landrovers,” he told the News Letter.

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“They have the whole place closed off and no one can get in or out. I have never seen anything like this.

“The bonfire seems to have been knocked down and there are lorries there, so I assume they are removing pallets, but I’m not sure what authority they have to do this,” he added.

A number of roads have been closed as a result of the operation and traffic is being diverted away from the area.

“PSNI are currently in attendance at Cluan Place bonfire in support of contractors who have been tasked with clearing a bonfire that poses a significant risk to people and property in the area,” a police spokesperson said.

“We will endeavour to support the contractors to complete this task in a timely manner and with minimum disruption to the community. We would ask for your patience and support as the area is made safe.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure commented: “The unauthorised bonfire structure at the junction of the Albertbridge Road and Cluan Place posed a serious risk to nearby buildings and members of the public.

“The department has a duty of care to the public and as a bonfire of this size and in this location is not manageable we had to arrange for its removal. The department has no current plans to remove material at other sites.”

The removal of the bonfire comes just hours after the controversial bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway was set alight after a court ruled that it must be reduced in height. Read full story here.