Northern Ireland

Tuesday's paper review: Bonfire-building ban broken

Mirror front page Image copyright Trinity Mirror

Bonfires unsurprisingly dominate Tuesday's papers ahead of tonight's eleventh night celebrations.

Tensions have been growing in the build up to the annual Twelfth of July commemorations amid fears some bonfires have reached dangerous heights.

Four Belfast sites have been deemed a risk to health and safety and to property, and bonfire makers at those sites have been banned from adding any further materials to the already towering structures.

'Scarves and balaclavas'

But despite the ban, issued by Belfast City Council, the Irish News, the Mirror and the News Letter all carry a defiant image of two masked men standing atop the Inverary Playing Fields bonfire in Belfast on their front pages.

Image caption Bonfires are traditionally lit in loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the eve of the annual Twelfth commemorations

The men appear to be breaching the order by continuing to add to the bonfire, which will be set alight later today.

The Irish News reports: "Men wearing balaclavas and scarves over their faces could be seen using a cherry picker to stack pallets on top of one of the four pyres at the centre of a controversial injunction."

It also reports that election posters belonging to Sinn Féin and the Alliance Party have been placed on a bonfire in the Conway Street area near the Shankill Road.

'Up in smoke'

Posters of Naomi Long and Michelle O'Neill, as well as Paul Maskey and John Finucane, are among those reported to have been used.

Mr Finucane last night told the Irish News that the Orange Order should "speak out about the hate crimes that have taken place at theses Eleventh night bonfires".

But the News Letter reports it was "unclear whether a court injunction taken against the organisers would lead to prosecutions".

Speaking to the paper, loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson said he would like to see the "rationale" behind the injunction.

"They (the council) now appear to be back-tracking slightly in relation to the lighting of bonfires," he said.

Image caption The aftermath of a previous bonfire in east Belast

"So far as I'm concerned it's (the injunction) not worth the paper it's written on."

In a letter to the editor, Mr Bryson writes that "Sinn Féin's fingerprints are all over these new movements agitating in relation to flags and bonfires".

In the Mirror the headline reads "up in smoke" as it claims there are fears police will not be able to cope if violence erupts.

Chair of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland, Mark Lindsay, has warned: "What we don't want is a drain on already stretched resources."

The Belfast Telegraph also leads with bonfires, but takes a different tack.

It has spoken to an east Belfast cleric who has "slammed" a "lack of leadership" in the run up to the Twelfth Day.

'Six or seven years old'

Pastor Lucas Parks, whose grandfather was an Orangeman, was speaking after fire officers boarded up the rear windows of his church to protect it from the bonfire at Ravenscroft Avenue car park on the Bloomfield Walkway after it is lit tonight.

Like the Iverary Playing Fields site, it is also the subject of an injunction issued on behalf of Belfast City Council.

Pastor Parks told the paper that five families who live in a nearby apartment block have moved out of their homes because they fear they will be engulfed in the flames of the Ravenscroft bonfire.

He said he approached the builders some weeks ago to plead with them over the towering structure.

Image caption Last month a council-owned car park at Ravenscroft Avenue was closed off by young men building the bonfire

"I couldn't repeat what they told me," he said.

"Some of them were in the 20s, some were as young as six or seven years old.

"Someone has to be the voice of justice and for the people who are afraid to speak out, it's been the Christian tradition to do that for thousands of years."