Arrests at west Belfast bonfire removal

Published Thursday, 07 August 2014
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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."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
jen in lisburn wrote (174 days ago):
A 13 year old was in possession of a petrol bomb. Am I the only one who finds this more disturbing than wood being removed. I have a 13 year old son, and if I thought for one minute he would contemplate doing something like that, he would not be allowed out of the house. Please people, concentrate on raising your children properly instead of this nonsense.
Pasty in Belfast wrote (174 days ago):
Marty, no it's not "Discrimination" removing and then replacing the PVC, it's a total waste of public money which the Unionist politicians don't seem to mind - but have no problems demanding Welfare Reform and cuts from disabled people's benefits. If the NIHE didn't do this for them then they wouldn't build these bonfires so big with so much toxic material. Maybe everyone should try taking legal action to force the authorities to stop facilitating toxic fume celebrations and the wasting of public money, then maybe the Unionist politicians would demand an end to it - or the people living near the bonfires would.
Tracey in Tyrone wrote (174 days ago):
They should all be banned or the cost of cleaning it up took from the benefits, or if by some chance people who attend these "functions" work then their wages and i guarentee a new attitude towards banning them the following year....
Ex Taxi Paul in Belfast wrote (175 days ago):
Why don't we just legislate. I have a few ideas A Bonfire must be a certain distance from residential property, it must be a certain distance from and not a danger to an A class road or motorway, it must be a certain distance from petrol stations, A bonfire cannot be placed in an area if 30% of the residents that live within a specified distance of that area object to it etc. No bonfire should contain bonfire prohibited materials defined as tyres, gas cylinders etc. There would then be a clear set of rules that would apply to all bonfires and their numbers would be reduced greatly.
Michael in Belfast wrote (175 days ago):
Jake in Belfast......these are not community events!! The vast vast majority of local residents do not want these. Take the hint when the local community actual take the time to call the City council to have them removed. All these bonfires are are an excuse for young people to drink and take drugs and dance around like Neanderthals. Grow up and get with the rest of us in the 21st century!!
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