‘Ongoing need’ to work with Larne youth

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Over the past number of weeks several points have been raised in the Larne Times regarding the bonfire celebrations at Ferris Park (Letters, July 25). I would like to make a number of points of my own.

This year’s bonfire celebration was a resounding success, culminating in live music in the outdoor marquee on bonfire night itself.

In the run up to bonfire night there was a children’s fun day and music played by several local marching bands.

These activities engage the local community and create a fun family atmosphere enabling everyone to feel part of the bonfire celebrations.

Significant work has gone in to making bonfire night a truly family event and occasion, and we have now reached a point where hundreds of people can gather together in a safe and managed environment without the need for any police to be present.

It was great to see so many children watching the bonfire this year and people staying for longer, which reminded me of my childhood when the bonfire was very popular.

Investment in local bonfires by Larne Borough Council has worked, and taken together with strong local engagement has made a real difference and reduced the cost of managing them.

Strong local leadership has also ensured that tyres and other hazardous materials are no longer placed on the bonfire.

On a number of occasions this year I worked with Larne Borough Council to have tyres removed from the area that had been illegally dumped.

A valid point was raised about a negative sign that had been placed on the bonfire. While signs like this cannot and should not be condoned, it should be looked at in the context of how far forward things have moved and should not undermine what has become a successful community event.

Resources have been invested into working with young people to educate them around community relations and cultural diversity.

This work has made a tremendous difference in a short space of time but the placing of a negative sign on the bonfire highlights the ongoing need for this type of work.

Our young people face a range of challenges from the temptations of substances and alcohol through to high unemployment and we must continue to support them.

As for the bonfire, let us focus on the positive achievements of the past number of years and hope that these achievements can be built upon to make an even more successful community event next year.

Gareth McConnell,

Factory Bonfire Committee