Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said it’s time to put public safety first and put in place proper regulation of bonfires.
The North Belfast MLA said:
“The events of the weekend clearly demonstrate the need for the regulation of bonfires.
“A 17-year-old boy has been left fighting for his life after a tragic incident at a bonfire in my own constituency and my first thoughts are with him and his family. This follows a report some days earlier of a 16-year-old youth being seriously injured after a fall from another bonfire in Cookstown.
“We also saw the collapse of a huge bonfire in Portadown where the consequences could have been catastrophic.
“It is totally unacceptable to put people’s lives, homes and the environment at risk. This cannot be allowed to continue without regulation and adherence to public health and safety legislation.
“We need to put public safety first.
“It is clearly bizarre when the Housing Executive spend tens of thousands of pounds of public money on boarding up houses while Fire Service personnel then hose down buildings rather than tackling the source of the fire.
“Instead dangerous situations like these should be prevented by banning these monstrosities, which endanger lives and properties.
“There is also an onus on police and statutory agencies to recognise their existing responsibilities to keep communities safe and to uphold the rule of law without fear or favour.
“The sectarian hate crime which has accompanied many of these bonfires must end and in 2021 there can be no tolerance of attacks on people’s homes at interfaces. That is not culture.
“Now is the time to put in place proper regulation and enforcement about the size and the location of bonfires, and end the displays of naked sectarian hatred.”