Sinn Féin Councillor Ciaran Beattie has said he is disappointed that efforts to consign illegal and sectarian bonfires in the city to the dustbin of history were frustrated at tonight’s meeting of Belfast City Council..
And the leader of Sinn Féin’s party group in the council said he was dismayed that the Alliance Party and the Greens had backed efforts by political unionism to prevent regulation of bonfires which present a threat to life, property and the environment.
Ciaran Beattie said:
“Tonight, Belfast City Council had a gilt-edged opportunity to consign illegal and sectarian bonfires in our city to the past.
“The Sinn Féin proposal to regulate bonfires would have ensured that illegal bonfires in the city do not pose a threat to life, property and the environment.
“There are a wide range of criminal acts associated with illegal bonfires, including the theft, transportation and dumping of materials, criminal damage, anti-social behaviour and hate crimes with the burning of flags and emblems.
“It is simply not good for enough for city councillors to turn a blind eye to the reality of what illegal bonfires entail.
“Political unionism has been fighting a rearguard action for some years now against efforts to bring this city into the 21st century.
“It is beggars belief however that the Alliance and Green Parties have joined with regressive unionism in frustrating this attempt to regulate illegal bonfires.
“It is also absolutely bizarre that the ‘Green’ Party on the eve of COP26 have refused to back a motion which would have brought the burning of toxic materials in the city to an end.
“This despite a pollution survey carried out on the 11th of July in Belfast which showed that potentially lethal pollutants were as much as five times higher on that day.
“Every political party has a part to play to help ensure that Belfast continues in its transformation into a vibrant and modern city for all.
“This evening, the Green and Alliance Parties have failed in their responsibility to the citizens of this city who want to live in an inclusive, progressive and environmentally friendly city.
“There is now an obligation on both parties to explain why they have sided with bonfire builders over the right of citizens to live free from hate, toxic fumes and criminality.
“Sinn Féin will continue in our efforts to ensure that bonfires in this city no longer present a threat to life, property, the environment or to the rule of law.”