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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Bonfire management stays on the ‘back-burner’ in Mid and East Antrim

Craigyhill Bonfire in Larne.

Craigyhill Bonfire in Larne. (Image: John Fitz Photography)

Bonfire management was not on the agenda at this month’s meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council on Monday evening (12 June) after being deferred since January.

It had been listed in April for discussion in confidence when councillors were reminded the matter had been deferred at a number of recent meetings previously.

On the proposal of Coast Road Alliance Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna and seconded by Coast Road Sinn Fein Councillor James McKeown, it was agreed this item be deferred until the full council meeting in June.

The item had been listed on the council agenda in February and March for discussion behind closed doors under legal and confidential matters with a report to follow after it was put back in January.

No further full council meetings are scheduled before the Twelfth although it is understood that there may be workshops for discussions to take place.

Bonfire management has been highlighted in Mid and East Antrim Borough following the death of Larne man John Steele after a fall from the Antiville bonfire in the town last July.

Mr Steele, who was in his 30s, and a father-of-two died while helping with the building of the bonfire on Saturday, July 9.

No bonfire is under construction on this site at present.

Last July, the 202ft bonfire in Larne’s adjacent Craigyhill estate unofficially beat the record for the world’s tallest bonfire. On Tuesday night, it had reached 160 rows high.

An open letter on a ‘Craigyhill Bonfire and Cultural’ social media page stated: 

“We consider ourselves and many others in our cultural tradition expert bonfire builders with a lifetime of experience doing so.

“What we have endeavoured to do from the year-long planning outside of our full-time employment is take every safety precautions imaginable. Now to claim it is without risk would be foolish, but we believe there is no more risk than working on a building site.”

A spokesperson for the local authority said:

“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council works closely with relevant statutory partners and the community in relation to bonfires throughout the area.

“Council has developed a Cultural Celebrations Working Group with the aim of strengthening partnerships between local community leaders and statutory partners to encourage safe and responsible cultural celebrations.”


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