Cultural group to examine bonfires

A previous bonfire at Larne's Boyne Square. INLT 28-332-PR
A previous bonfire at Larne's Boyne Square. INLT 28-332-PR

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has established a working group to review its approach to cultural celebrations such as bonfires.

At a council meeting on September 7, four councillors were elected to the working group, which a report stated aims to “establish a process to review cultural celebrations that took place during July and August 2015.”

The council report states that “Members received many concerns from residents regarding the state of bonfire sites and the type of material being burnt particularly tyres.”

According to the report, council currently spends £25,000 in relation to the clean-up, restoration and disposal of waste from 16 bonfire sites.

Council also spends approximately £12,000 on grants surrounding cultural celebrations.

At the council meeting, DUP Alderman Gregg McKeen suggested that instead of only one group, three sub groups should be set up from the legacy council areas which could then “merge into a larger group.”

However, Chief Executive Anne Donaghy said that the intention was to have one group serving all three areas.

“It would be an advantage to have one member and one council officer from each predecessor area who would be au fait with what happened before and will have the proper links to the community,” she suggested.

Sinn Fein Councilor Patrice Hardy said that since the issue was “cross-Community” she believed one member from each party should be appointed to the group.

Chief Executive Anne Donaghy said there was “no limit” on the number of members.

“Collecting for July bonfires should be done in July.” said Mrs Donaghy.

“It’s a seasonal problem but we need to be working at a way forward.”

Councillor Hardy’s proposition that one member from each party should sit on the group was defeated 24-7. Cllr Hardy said she was “appalled” at this.

“Cultural issues affect all of the community, there should be one from each part of the community,” she stated.

UUP Councillor D A Wilson, DUP Alderman Gregg McKeen, TUV Councillor Donna Anderson and DUP Councillor Reuben Glover were elected onto the working group.