Bonfire builders told to expect crackdown

By Evan Short

A blitz on internment bonfires is expected to take place in the coming days after the PSNI agreed to back community efforts to put an end to the beacons for anti-social behaviour.

On Monday night (August 4) a packed Recy in the New Lodge heard top cop Bobby Singleton vow to ‘robustly’ police the fires and do what he could to assist statutory agencies removing material ahead of Friday’s planned events.

That commitment seemed to have borne fruit by Wednesday when the PSNI moved on to the Bone Hills to provide cover for contractors removing dozens of pallets and tyres from a pyre built by local youths.

Similar lifts in the New Lodge have seen rival bonfire builders clash over dwindling wood supplies.

And while community workers and politicians expect the bonfire builders to go ahead with their plans, they say they are hopeful they will be at a much reduced level from previous years. Previous fires sparked off days of trouble and anti social behaviour both in the Seven Hills area of the New Lodge and Torrens.

Sinn Féin Cllr JJ Magee, who facilitated Monday’s public meeting between statutory agencies and the community, said the people had spoken and it was up to those agencies to back them up.

“We secured firm commitments from the PSNI along with the Housing Executive that there would be a maximum effort made to lift bonfire materials and deal with anyone involved in intimidation of residents and workers.

“Clearly the small number of people at the core of this anti-community bonfire are also at the core of much of the crime in the New Lodge area during the rest of the year and need held to account for their behaviour.”

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