By Evan Short

THE North Belfast community leader appointed to City Hall’s independent bonfire panel has said his aim is to facilitate dialogue and discussion between the people and officials.

Rev Bill Shaw, director of the 174 Trust, will take up an official role to judge whether bonfire events comply with Council guidelines under which grants are awarded.

Bonfires will be judged on whether offensive items are on show, whether hazardous material such as tyres are being burnt and if there’s evidence of early collecting.

Any bonfire failing to fulfil the criteria may be penalised in future grant applications.

Rev Shaw told the North Belfast news he was asked to take part and said he would always make himself available to help with community relations.

“I want to help with dialogue and discussion and compliance with the bonfire rules,” he said.

A number of loyalist bonfires don’t sign up to the City Council scheme and forgo cash for events so they can burn hazardous material without sanction.

Rev Bill said there would be no financial gain for him from the role.

The Council’s ‘Bonfire and Cultural Expression’ scheme is operated under its Good Relations Action Plan to “promote the positive expression of culture”. It says the Council is committed to “working with communities across Belfast to help improve the way July bonfires are managed and provide support to increase opportunities for positive cultural expression.”

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