‘Significant progress’ made over Larne bonfire management

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“Favourable progress” is being made in relation to bonfire management in the Larne borough, the local authority has claimed.

Grants totalling more than £15,000 have been earmarked by Larne Borough Council for this year’s July 11 celebrations at eight bonfire sites locally, ranging from over £4,200 at Ferris Park to £500 at Millbrook.

And, with three of the 10 bonfire sites in the borough (Tullygarley, Millbrook and Islandmagee ) now embracing eco-friendly, reusable beacons, the council feels the current situation is much improved over previous years.

At the latest meeting of the development committee on Monday, councillors agreed to support the ongoing work of the Bonfire Management Committee and approved the payment of grants for the various July 11 celebrations across the borough.

A council officer said: “In the past Larne has had considerable bad press in relation to bonfires, although there is a feeling that this is changing and Larne is now receiving recognition for the work that is ongoing and the progress that has been made.

“Having now 30 per cent of sites moved from a bonfire to a beacon and having fires tyre-free contribute to the recognition that communities want to manage bonfires in partnership with agencies in a responsbile way, which causes minimum disruption to the wider community.

“Taking into consideration some of the issues and challenges that have emerged this year, as they do every year, the current situation is much more favouable at this point than in recent years.”

In a bid to make the Eleventh Night a more inclusive affairs, local groups are striving to create a family atmosphere and make the bonfire the culmination to a day of events for people of all ages.

The eight bonfire sites which have applied for funding from Larne Borough Council will all feature entertainment for adults and children alike.

And some events, such as those at Ferris Park and Glynn, will take the form of a festival and will see the celebrations last over two or three days.

The council officer said the “significant progress” made in relation to bonfire management had been “community-led.”

The officer added: “The main thrust of the event is to make the day of the bonfire a family focused, celebratory atmosphere, and one that the wider community can enjoy.”

“This year, representatives of all bonfire sites – with the exception of Craigyhill and Harbour – have formally particiapted to ensure that progress continues.

“Those sites not attending meetings of the Bonfire Forum or running events still have contact with officers on an ad hoc basis as and when issues arise.”

The bonfire groups which applied to the council for grants will receive the funding retrospectively, once valid receipta are submitted.

The grants are funded up to 75 per cent through the Office of the First and deputy First Minister.