Row over local bonfire tyres

By Francesca Ryan

B elfast City Council has threatened to withhold cash for a West Belfast Twelfth bonfire after builders flouted funding terms by filling it with tyres.
The bonfire, which is on land between Conway Street and North Howard Street just on the loyalist side of the Falls-Shankill peace wall, is a hollow edifice of wooden pallets which, as our photograph shows, is filled with tyres which emit dangerous fumes and fill the air with harmful tiny particles when burnt.
Homes on the nationalist side of the peace wall are located just 250 feet from the site, causing concern for residents living in the vicinity.
The Conway Street bonfire is part of Belfast City Council’s Bonfire Management Scheme, meaning it receives funding under the City Hall Good Relations terms if certain conditions are met – one of which is ‘strictly no tyres’.
We contacted Belfast City Council last night about the bonfire tyres and a spokeswoman said funding may be withheld if the tyres are burnt.
“We have met with community representatives regarding tyres being burnt and reminded organisers that this is in breach of the Bonfire Management scheme’s terms and conditions,” she said. “We have been given assurances that the tyres will be removed. We will continue to monitor the situation and, if tyres are burnt, we have advised organisers that funding could be withheld.”
Local Sinn Féin Councillor Stevie Corr, who is Chair of the Council’s Health and Environmental Services Committee, is pushing for sanctions should the tyres be burnt on the Eleventh Night.
“This bonfire receives funding from the Council and one of the stipulations for receiving funding is that there are no tyres burned,” he said. “Clearly that condition is being ignored in this case and I have brought it to the Council’s attention.
“Action needs to be taken against any group which breaches Council guidelines and they certainly should not be receiving funding.
“The amount of bonfires in and around Belfast create large amounts of pollution each year and the burning of tyres releases even more damaging toxins into the air.
“Bonfire builders are clearly trying to hoodwink the public and the Council and the bottom line is that those who build them are responsible for them.
“It is time that bonfires became a thing of the past. It is crazy that the people of Belfast have to suffer this yearly dose of pollution because of what some say is tradition.
“If a tradition is damaging the health of people, and especially our children, then it needs to be stopped.”