Sinn Fein want string of bonfire restrictions on Belfast council land
Sinn Fein has officially tabled a motion in Belfast City Council that could see all bonfires on council land go through a strict application process before they can proceed.
f Accepted by the board’s strategic policy and resources committee later this month, the motion – which has been called “unrealistic” by the DUP – would stipulate that such requests must include details of liability insurance and a risk assessment agreed by the PSNI, fire service and advice.
The motion, tabled by Ciaran Beattie, follows an incident in July in which a 17-year-old boy suffered burns to his face and body during a bonfire at Silverstream Crescent in Ballysillan.
Over the years, several controversial bonfires have been built on council lands, but there has been no legal regulation of the pyres.
The motion details a list of actions that must be included in requests before they can be considered.
In addition to a risk assessment, the applicant must include a commitment to ensure that there will be no combustion of toxic materials, an entertainment license, a demonstration of sufficient consultation with local residents and a plan site cleaning.
The motion says that the display or burning of materials such as flags and posters will not be allowed – and the applicant must commit to it.
“Any failure to follow an open, transparent, robust and successful bonfire application process will cause the board to seek PSNI support to protect our sub-contractors during material removal. Nominations must be received three months before a scheduled event, ”the motion reads.
Suggesting the changes last night, Beattie said the council’s stance around bonfires was “no longer tenable”. “The position of self-regulation has not worked and it will not work in the future. We need a whole new approach to bonfires, ”he added.
“We don’t need new legislation to deal with bonfires, the legislation already exists.
“From stolen materials and the transport of waste requiring a license, to the illegal dumping of materials on earth without consent … there are a multitude of offenses occurring around these bonfires. In our opinion, this council must take it up.
“We need to have a process in place that is no different from any process people have to follow to organize events in our parks.
“For someone to come and light a monstrous bonfire, with all the dangers surrounding it – toxic fumes, disruption to residents… this council has no process. [It is] completely crazy.
The motion was not debated by councilors yesterday, but DUP members previously rejected the plan’s suggestions and said they instead supported community engagement, self-regulation and encouraging good practice.
“We recognize that there is a different dynamic within the nationalist community that the Nationalist / Republican parties want to end the August anti-internment campfires. However, they should not involve the July bonfires in this, ”the council’s DUP group said in a statement.
“We consider that the procedures proposed in this Sinn Fein motion are unrealistic and are designed to increase tensions around bonfires for political purposes.
“We have already seen this year that the statutory bodies have resisted inappropriate manipulation for political ends by nationalist politicians in this regard. “
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