Sinn Fein plan to regulate Belfast bonfires ‘not realistic’, say DUP

A Sinn Fein plan to regulate Belfast bonfires through an application process is a “recipe for disaster”, a DUP councillor has said.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 9:50 pm
The Tigers Bay bonfire at Adam Street pictured on July 5. Photo: Pacemaker

Ciaran Beattie, Sinn Fein group leader on Belfast City Council, announced his party’s intention yesterday to put forward a motion requiring bonfires to secure approval beforehand.

Applications would come from what he described as “a constituted organisation”, and would require “a risk assessment, public liability insurance, consultation with local residents and a commitment not to burn emblems and toxic materials” in order to gain approval.

Mr Beattie said the council would request “support” from the PSNI for contractors to remove unapproved bonfires.

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But DUP councillor Brian Kingston has said his party will oppose the proposals.

“The wording of this is just unrealistic,” he said.

“We will continue to use our influence to encourage responsible bonfires but we are not seeking to end bonfires.

“We think it is an important and legitimate part of Protestant, unionist and loyalist culture.”

He added: “We will not be supporting that motion. We think that this is not realistic.

“To say that they will insist on contractors, backed up by police, removing every bonfire which doesn’t meet those criteria is a recipe for disaster.”

UUP councillor Jim Rodgers said his party would make a decision on the motion later.

“We, like all motions, will discuss this and come to a decision,” he said. “We have had motion after motion, especially in this term, and the problem would be trying to put them into practice.”