Sandy Row bonfire arson ‘attack on Protestant culture’

Firefighters at the Sandy Row bonfire after it was set alight early on Thursday morning
Firefighters at the Sandy Row bonfire after it was set alight early on Thursday morning

A Sandy Row community worker has told of an “attack on the Protestant culture” after an 11th night bonfire was burnt to the ground weeks early.

A man in his 30s was later arrested after disturbances in the area, in the Wellwood Street area near Days Hotel.

DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt condemned the incident and said it was “an attack on the people of Sandy Row”.

“This is a community event around Sandy Row and when this happened it was broad daylight so anyone could have been there including children,” he said.

“There could have been a serious accident and I totally condemn it. But I suspect, knowing the community in Sandy Row, that the bonfire will be back bigger and better for the 11th night.”

Glenda Davies, development manager at Sandy Row community forum, told the News Letter she was “one of the first at the scene”.

“I arrived at the scene and spoke to the man who was getting his car who had phoned it through to the emergency services,” she said.

“He said he saw two or three men running away from the site towards the city centre.

“The bonfire has been burned to the ground which is very disheartening for all the young men who collected the wood and those who managed the site.”

She said the large bonfire had been built with hundreds of wooden pallets.

Ms Davies added that the “actions of a few young men has put all the hard work in terms of community relations at risk”.

“But the bonfire will be back bigger and better for the 11th,” she said. “What happened here was an attack on Protestant culture.”

PSNI Chief Inspector Robert Murdie said: “At this stage it is believed that a bonfire sited in the area has been deliberately ignited which has led to disturbances in the area.”

The Fire Service received a report about the fire at 9.33am. Two fire appliances from Central Fire Station attended the scene, and a spokesman said the incident “is being treated as a deliberate fire”.