Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Fra McCann has written to several government departments today and statutory agencies calling for a joined-up approach to help tackle the issue of the 8th August bonfires and the disorder, violence and destruction that goes along with them.
The West Belfast MLA said:
“The bonfire on 8th August has become a nightmare for local residents. Sinn Féin along with community representatives have been to the fore in trying to ensure these fires are a thing of the past and many of our members have suffered as a result of standing up to those who encourage these fires, disorder and vandalism for their own purposes.
“We have met with young people, the community sector and statutory authorities including the PSNI to assist with this. Unfortunately I have been disappointed in some of the responses when departments and organisations responsible for the land have refused to clear the bonfire material as it has started to gather.
“The bonfires happen at the height of the summer when most young people are off school and we have a responsibility to offer an alternative. Many communities have already begun this by organising diversionary activities but this can only work if done as part of an overall strategy.
“There needs to be a joined-up approach with all the agencies co-operating to ensure these same problems do not occur next year. In the coming weeks I will be seeking to have meetings with the relevant bodies and departments so that we can set in motion a process to finally put an end these fires.”