DUP may stay away from Mid Ulster Council's bonfire meeting

Sinn Fin call meeting to discuss bonfires in the district
Sinn Fin call meeting to discuss bonfires in the district

The DUP leader on Mid Ulster Council says they are still considering whether to attend a special meeting of the Environment Committee being called by Sinn Féin to discuss ‘rogue bonfires’ in the district.

Councillor Paul McLean told the Mail that he believed there could be a “sinister element” to the meeting next Thursday.

“We as a party are still discussing whether to go to this meeting or not,” he said. “I’m really astonished that a party which once supported terrorists who blew and heart and soul out of our towns and villages have suddenly become so environmentally concerned.

“There were no cries about the environment when the smoke from bombed buildings were going up into the sky.”

Sinn Féin councillor Brian McGuigan has raised concerns about a number of what he called ‘rogue bonfires’.

“We have been liaising with all public bodies through a cross-party bonfire working group,” he said. “Despite our best efforts to mitigate the problems associated with a number of them, illegal practices continue and are having serious detrimental impacts to the quality of life of many residents within our district.”

He said he has requested a special meeting of the council’s environment committee to ensure everything is being done to reduce risk to ratepayers as result of illegal activity.

Chair of the committee, councillor Ronan McGinley added: “After receiving correspondence from councillor McGuigan, I feel it’s appropriate to hold a meeting to discuss a number of issues he has raised.

“We need to explore a number of areas, including the need to investigate the financial costs incurred, clarification of risk assessments and public liability, and also to ensure that, as a council, we are reducing risk in line with our responsibilities.”

A number of Eleventh night bonfires in the district raised local concerns including one at Monrush where asbestos was dumped along with other materials, Killymerron Park, Dungannon where four houses were damaged, and at the Five Road Ends, Kilross, Tobermore, where overhead powerlines have been damaged in the past.