Northern Ireland

New Lodge: Material removed from bonfire site

Bonfire Image copyright JJ Magee
Image caption The material was removed from the area by Housing Executive staff and community volunteers

Material gathered for a bonfire in the New Lodge area of north Belfast has been removed from the site.

Pallets, wood and other items were taken away by Northern Ireland Housing Executive staff and community volunteers at about 06:00 BST on Friday.

Sinn Féin councillor JJ Magee said many residents were supportive of the move.

Concerns had been expressed that the bonfire was too close to blocks of flats and a children's nursery.

'Frustrated'

Mr Magee said he believed there are other materials which have been hidden and may be placed on the site before 8 August, which is when the bonfire was due to be lit.

In August, anti-internment bonfires are lit in some republican areas to commemorate the introduction of internment without trial of republican suspects, which was brought in by the British government in 1971.

Image caption Residents of the flats were concerned about living so close to the bonfire

Mr Magee also said the process of removing the material has been ongoing throughout the summer, and that Housing Executive contractors had already removed up to 140 pallets on Tuesday.

"There is community engagement all year in relation to this," he said.

"There are ringleaders in the crowds that are using younger people to bring material there. I'd like them to stop and get involved in the community, in the summer schemes."

"I'd encourage them to stop collecting, and go and listen to residents and youth leaders who are frustrated with this," added Mr Magee.

On Wednesday, a Housing Executive spokesperson said it was regularly removing materials from the site, and would continue to do so.

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