Councillor Philip McGuigan has said that statutory organisations can no longer stand by and allow the sectarian and anti social behaviour at some 11th night bonfires to continue.
Cllr. McGuigan said:
“What is happening at some bonfires in this area has nothing to do with Culture and everything to do with either sectarianism or anti-social behaviour or a combination of both. I know given the number of calls I take each year at this time that this is an embarrassment to many Unionists who are in fact interested in Culture.
“I understand that resolving this given the lack of principled leadership from Unionist elected Representatives isn’t going to be easy but the appeasement approach that statutory agencies have taken in the past certainly hasn’t worked and needs revised.
“Most sensible people continue to ask the same question on a yearly basis i.e How is this allowed to happen?
“How are tyres allowed to be collected and left sitting at bonfire sites weeks in advance untouched? How despite being illegal are tyres in the hundreds allowed to be burnt? How are bonfires allowed to be burned on either public owned land, or on the roadside, or near houses? How are hate crimes allowed to take place with the burning of flags, election posters and religious relics? Why do we never hear of any prosecutions for any of this visible illegal activity? Why is vast sums of public money used to clean up all this illegal and anti-social activity?
“I think that with 12 months to prepare for next year that The Council. Environment agencies and the PSNI need to agree a different strategy to tackle this problem. That is what the sane, sensible people living close to these bonfires want and it is what the ratepayers of this Council area deserve.”