Mid Ulster Council has been accused of failing in its responsibilities to residents after tyres were illegally burned on council ground during the July 12 celebrations.
The troubling news that the council failed to promptly remove the harmful tyres from bonfires on its properties led to a furious response from Sinn Fein Councillor Dominic Molloy at July’s monthly meeting of the council.
“The ratepayers have had to pay for the cost of cleaning up the mess left behind by these dangerous bonfires”, said Councillor Molloy, clearly angered at the lack of action by council staff.
“Why were steps not taken beforehand to remove the tyres before they were burnt and released toxic fumes. The wishes of this council have not been adhered to and I want to know why not?
“It is not a case of these tyres possibly releasing harmful fumes, it is has been proven that they are harmful to people.”
It is understood that the council has had to clean up the waste left behind by up to six bonfires on its properties, some of which were permitted to burn the tyres, which pose a health hazard particularly to elderly people and children.
Last June, councillors passed a motion outlawing the practice of burning tyres on bonfires, which creates toxic plumes of smoke, and vowing to remove any illegally dumped material at bonfires.
However, a council officer told the chamber that the safety of its staff was paramount, and it was decided after a risk assessment that the material should be cleared away after July 12.
“There was a co-ordinated multi-agency response to this issue and a survey was completed of all bonfires on council property. While the majority contained wood, some also contained tyres. Previously the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency would have removed the tyres but they weren’t prepared to act in this instance.”
Councillor Cathal Mallaghan said the council had a statutory responsibility to clear up illegally dumped rubbish on its property.
“I understand the problem of the council not wanting to risk the safety of its staff, but third-party organisations could be employed, who would be given police protection to do the task.”