Housing Executive reneges on commitments at 'rogue' bonfire site - Kearney
Sinn Féin South Antrim MLA, Declan Kearney has strongly criticised the Housing Executive for reneging on commitments made during multi-agency meetings to deal with a 'rogue' 11th July bonfire site at Dublin Road, Antrim.
Mr Kearney said:
"Early last March I began engaging directly with the local Housing Executive regarding the unauthorised use of its land to build this 'rogue' bonfire.
“Incredibly it took six weeks for me to secure a face to face meeting on this issue with local Housing Executive management.
“Subsequently I convened a process of multi-agency discussions on how breaches of environmental regulations and other potential criminality around this 'rogue' bonfire should be addressed.
“I am extremely disturbed that despite the hazards to public health, breaches of environmental regulations and violations of local residents' rights associated with the Dublin Road bonfire, the Housing Executive has now set aside its statutory obligations.
“It has also reneged on commitments which it made on preventing the most negative impacts of this rogue bonfire.
“The Housing Executive has displayed an absolute dereliction of public responsibility, and behaved in bad faith.
“It has reversed commitments made during a series of meetings I hosted since last May. This process involved all relevant public agencies during which they all agreed that given the illegal nature of this bonfire, taking no action to stop breaches of the law at Dublin Road was not an option.
“The Housing Executive agreed in June that at minimum it would remove all carcinogenic, toxic and combustible materials from this bonfire and adjoining site. In the last few days it has decided unilaterally to withdraw from that position.
“I am on record defending the rights of all sections of our community to celebrate their cultural traditions, when that is done with respect for, and without causing offence to others.
“Burning tyres and combustible materials is not a celebration of any tradition or culture. It is environmental vandalism.
"The burning of carcinogenic and toxic materials at the Dublin Road bonfire site poses serious public health implications. It will also have major adverse impact on the neighbouring eco system and environment.
“The Housing Executive have ultimate responsibility for what happens on this site, and that includes the illegal burning of controlled waste on its land.
“By taking the decision to allow this bonfire to proceed unhindered it is effectively facilitating violations of environmental law and acquiescing in the hijacking of its property by individuals acting with no community mandate.
"It is an absolute disgrace that the Housing Executive has now abandoned its statutory obligations and capitulated to the rule of environmental vandals.
“The indifference displayed by the Housing Executive is enabling this unacceptable violation of people’s right to live free from disruption, intimidation and risk to their health.
“I will be seeking an urgent meeting with senior NIHE officials to make robust representations about this serious dereliction of responsibility.”