Arrests at west Belfast bonfire removal

Arrests at west Belfast bonfire removal

An anti-internment bonfire has been removed in west Belfast, with two arrests made after a petrol bomb was thrown.

Tactical police officers attended while council workers loaded wooden pallets onto lorries which were driven away from the site in the Cullingtree Road area of Divis just after 8am on Thursday.A petrol bomb was thrown while police were at the scene. No-one was injured.Two youths - aged 13 and 19 - were arrested on suspicion of riotous behaviour and possession of a petrol bomb.They were later released on police bail pending further investigation.The material was removed a day before bonfires are due to be lit to commemorate the introduction of the detention without trial of republican suspects in the 1970s.Our Community Safety Team work closely throughout the year with the police, local residents and community groups on all community safety and ASB issues including bonfires.Belfast City Council"Police are always willing to progress community concerns on a broad number of issues, including bonfires," a PSNI spokesperson commented."Whilst not the lead organisation on the issue of the siting of bonfires, we understand we have a role to play and will assist other statutory bodies carry out their duties if called upon to do so."We always advise that organisers ensure they have sought permission from relevant landowners and that bonfires are safe, pose no threat to life or property and are not likely to prompt a breach of the peace or any other offence."Whilst the physical removal of bonfires is not a matter for police, local neighbourhood officers can and do attend when requested to do so by agencies involved in bonfire removal."A spokesperson for Belfast City Council said it does not have a policy on the removal of bonfires but will sometimes provide assistance.They added that "this is only done upon request from communities and their representatives, and each request is considered on a case by case basis"."In most cases, a third party carries out the removal if it is agreed," the spokesperson explained."Over the past few weeks we have worked with local residents and community organisations to help them with the removal of material from nine sites across Belfast."Local Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann said that council staff had recently been threatened while removing items from a bonfire in the same area."Threats were made against council staff that vehicles would be burnt, personnel would be attacked."Again, it's my understanding that council had withdrawn from the area for a couple of days, but after representation, the council has put officials back into the area again."

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