Appeal for Ballymena Council to get behind nationalist community
North Antrim Sinn Féin Assembly member Philip McGuigan has called on the Council in Ballymena to get behind the local nationalist community in the town and fund community based festivals as an alternative to bonfires.
Mr McGuigan said:
" Over the past two weeks bonfires in Ballymena have resulted in violence between a small minority of young nationalists and the PSNI. Much of this violence has been the result of alcohol consumption by the young people involved on one hand and overzealous policing by the PSNI on the other.
" In recent years residents in Fisherwick have attempted to organise community festivals as an alternative to late night bonfires. This approach mirrors that adopted by nationalist communities across the six counties. The local festival in Fisherwick was a success and did prevent any trouble occurring over the past two years.
" However this year the local council reneged on promises made and commitments given to fund the festival and the vacuum left was filled once again with a bonfire. Local nationalists feel that their community is being is ignored by Ballymena Council and other statutory agencies.
" Sinn Féin will continue to work with the local nationalist community in Ballymena to reverse decades of under funding and under investment. This small vulnerable nationalist community cannot be continually ignored and demonised." ENDS