A bonfire north of Belfast has been described by the Chief Constable as the “most controversial” in Northern Ireland.
Simon Byrne made the comments to the Northern Ireland Police Council regarding the Adam Street pyre in the Tiger’s Bay area.
The bonfire is located on land owned by several departments of Stormont. Belfast Live understands that the bonfire was part of ongoing talks involving a Ministerial Stormont or MOG Watch Group, whose members include the Ministers for Infrastructure, Communities and Justice, and the PSNI.
The MOG was created after the 2020 bonfire season “to ensure that all public landowners / responsible authorities have a common understanding of the responsibility, policy, operational and reporting procedures regarding the management of bonfires. The Department of Justice told Belfast Live.
They added: “The ministers concerned (from the signatory departments) have met several times since the beginning of this year, as well as the chief of police or the relevant representative of the PSNI, to discuss the ongoing operation of the protocol. agreement.
“The Minister of Education has been asked to provide updates on youth diversion programs that have been provided through an official, while relevant officials of the Housing Council and Executive have were also invited to speak on any relevant issue falling within their competence as landowners or statutory partners ”.
The DoJ declined to comment when asked whether the Adam Street bonfire issue was discussed at the last MOG meeting.
Thursday’s Police Council meeting was informed that there were two or three Loyalist bonfire sites of “concern” in Northern Ireland.
PSNI Deputy Police Chief Alan Todd said this comes against the backdrop of around 250 pyres being built at sites across Northern Ireland ahead of the annual July 12 commemorations.
During the meeting, Sinn Fein MPP Gerry Kelly raised the issue of the Adam Street pyre being built near the peace line at Duncairn Gardens, between the New Lodge and Tiger’s Bay areas .
He claimed it had been used as a platform for throwing golf balls from the loyalist side of the division at homes on the nationalist side, in some cases breaking windows or damaging cars. DUP officials in the region said attacks were also launched from the Tiger’s Bay side.
Gerry Kelly added: “The problem with this one is very specific – it has been moved over the last couple of years to the UI to have an effect not on Tiger’s Bay but on the New Lodge, and it has an effect. over there.”
Mr Kelly insisted to Mr Byrne what police will do to stop the bonfire at its current location.
Mr Byrne said this site is the “most controversial” bonfire issue this year.
“We continue to work with the ministerial departments that own the land, which is the first point of resolution of this problem,” he said.
“We’re just here to facilitate any removal of the bonfire by contractors, not to get involved in doing it ourselves.”
Mr Todd added: “Work around community resolution on this continued until yesterday, and I’m going to get a read from these meetings and speak to my own team and our partners today. and the rest of this week as we plan what may or may not be needed … but at this point I wouldn’t comment further.
He said it’s important to note the background, there are a couple of sites of concern out of over 250 bonfires.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MP Colm Gildernew said he wrote to Health Minister Robin Swann asking him to ask PSNI to remove the bonfire near the Newtownards fire station.
“The erection of a bonfire very close to a fire station in Newtownards is of deep concern,” he said.
“July 11 is the busiest night of the year for our firefighters and this bonfire that could hamper their work and their ability to fulfill their duty to protect citizens is not only totally reckless, but downright dangerous.”
The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said plans were in place to ensure emergency coverage continued in the Newtownards area and throughout the service.
“We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” added a spokesperson.
A spokesperson for Ards and the North Down Council said the authority was aware of the bonfire on land it did not own.
He added that there had been a bonfire there for “a number of years” and that the council had encouraged the builder to downsize.
In Co Tyrone last month, a group of bonfire builders offered residents “heat protection” for their homes.
The Moygashel Bonfire Association (MBA), which is building a huge bonfire on a vacant lot near a housing estate in the village outside Dungannon, said “custom heat deflectors” will be installed on the windows by windows. skilled craftsmen to protect them from heat damage.