LARNE Council has moved to assure Tullygarley residents that funding is still in place for the lighting of a beacon in the area on the Eleventh night.
The environmentally-friendly beacon, which was first introduced in Tullygarley back in 2009 as an alternative to a traditional bonfire, was the first of its kind in the borough and other areas such as Millbrook have since followed suit.
But last week, pallets and other bonfire material were dumped at the beacon site at Tullygarley Corner, much to the frustration of local residents.
Chairman of Tullygarley Residents’ Association, Rusty Johnston, told the Times: “Rumours have been going around that the council does not have the necessary funding for a beacon at Tullygarley this year, and it appears that some people have taken matters into their own hands by dumping material at the site, against the wishes of the majority of residents.
“I have discussed this issue with the council and have been given assurances that the funding for the beacon is in place, so I want to quash this rumour once and for all.”
Mr Johnston claimed that those responsible for dumping the material at Tullygarley Corner are mainly from other parts of the town, and added that the pallets and other items were being collected from the site of the former Wilson’s of Rathkenny car showroom on Glynn Road, which has now been demolished.
“I would ask these people to show a bit of community spirit and remove these items from Tullygarley Corner,” Mr Johnston added.
A meeting between representatives from the council, community association and other interested parties was expected to take place at Smiley Buildings on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the Tullygarley situation.
Prior to the meeting, chief executive of Larne Borough Council Geraldine McGahey said: “We would like to assure residents in Tullygarley that funding is in place to ensure that there will be a beacon in the area again this year, contrary to rumours that have been circulating recently.
“The council will also continue to provide funding for bonfire celebrations throughout the borough, subject as always to the agreement and cooperation of organisers in relation to health and safety and environmental issues.”
Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs Jnr welcomed Mrs McGahey’s announcement and highlighted that the Tullygarley beacon had received almost universal approval from residents.
He added: “Extensive community consultation was carried out before and after the beacon was first used and the results were clear and convincing. The local residents indicated that they want to celebrate their loyalist culture in Tullygarley in a more considerate and environmentally friendly way. I am aware that the vast majority of the people in the area support the improvements which have been carried out at this entrance to Larne town.
“The new mural and railings which have enhanced the area would be damaged by a bonfire at this site. Electricity poles and local homes adjacent to the site have in the past been endangered by a bonfire in this location. Previously, firemen had to be stationed at the corner, making them unavailable for any other emergency situation.
“Given the confirmation that a beacon will be provided, I call on the local community to assist in preventing more material from being dumped at Tullygarley and to assist the council in removing what has been dumped already,” Mr Beggs concluded.