Nationalist/republican controlled Mid Ulster Council has decided to regulate bonfires built on council-owned land.
This is not about safe bonfires, which we support, but is an orchestrated plan by Sinn Fein to stop eleventh night bonfires.
With SF having a compliant SDLP, unionists in Mid Ulster Council rarely see consensus politics. It’s a Sinn Fein dictatorship.
This proposal was brought to the March Environment Committee where the SDLP, SF and UUP all supported regulation being introduced.
The DUP opposed council regulation and urged for a voluntary code to be put in place. This has been used in other areas with incredible success.
I am disappointed that unionism did not speak with a united voice on this matter.
DUP councillors backed Option Two (working with the communities) whilst a divided UUP backed Option Three (an unwieldy form of regulation by another name). SF and the SDLP steamrollered ahead with Options Three and Four (full regulation).
There are eight bonfires on council land. Bonfires organisers have already conducted community consultations and published plans to ensure 2018 bonfires are safe and family friendly.
This haughty approach was unnecessary.
This could have been better managed by working with communities rather than taking a heavy-handed regulatory approach. Leading is always better than driving.
Such a dictatorial approach will damage community relations and will confirm for many unionists that the SF controlled Mid Ulster Council has zero consideration for their culture.
Paul McClean, DUP group leader, Mid Ulster Council