TULLYGARLEY residents are “at their wits’ end” as the dispute over the Eleventh night bonfire in the area continues to rumble on.
As reported in the Times, pallets and other material have been dumped at Tullygarley Corner in recent weeks, much to the ire of local residents who are hoping to continue using an environmentally-friendly beacon as an alternative to a traditional bonfire.
In a bid to defuse the tense situation, a meeting was held at Smiley Buildings between representatives from Larne Council, Tullygarley Community Association and other interested parties, but this failed to resolve the issue.
And Rusty Johnston, chairman of the community association, has told the Times that residents now feel they have been “left in limbo” in the run up to bonfire night.
He added: “Those responsible for dumping the material are not even from Tullygarley, and they are going against the wishes of the community. The residents of Tullygarley deserve better than this. We have enjoyed the beacon here since 2009 and we don’t know why a small number of people have suddenly decided to act in this way.
“One of the hardest things for us is the lack of information coming from Larne Council. We feel like we have been left in the dark and have no idea what else we can do to tackle the problem.
At the latest meeting of their development committee on Monday, councillors spoke of their “disappointment” at the situation in Tullygarley and urged the council to take steps to resolve the problem.
Alderman Roy Beggs said: “The beacon in Tullygarley has been established and accepted by the residents of the area and no individuals have the right to usurp the authority of the wider community.
“We have a responsibility to get the place cleared so that the beacon can be erected, and councillors should be over there with council employees to clear it up and send a message to one or two bully boys that we will not tolerate this. We have tried talking, no one is listening; it is time for action.”
Councillor Roy Craig said it was “very disappointing” to see that Tullygarley had “taken a backwards step”, but stressed that the people of the area were not to blame.
“We need to realise that this is the work of a few individuals who have an agenda of their own, which leaves Tullygarley residents living in fear that if they stand up against them, something bad will happen,” he added.
Cllr Craig also said that the annual lighting of the beacon at Tullygarley has produced “an incredible carnival atmosphere” in recent years, and added that the actions of a few people could end up “spoiling it for everyone”.
The council has agreed to facilitate another meeting with the community association and other interested parties in a bid to find the best way forward.
Meanwhile, the council has also resolved to look into the possible provision of a multi-use games area for young people in the Tullygarley area.
However, while chief executive Geraldine McGahey said the local authority would investigate this issue, she added: “The council cannot afford to have MUGA facilities in every area of the town that has a unique identity, and there has to be some sharing of facilities between different wards.”