Kearney hits out at rogue bonfires
Sinn Féin's South Antrim MLA Declan Kearney has hit out at what he described as rogue bonfires in the Antrim town area after visiting a number of sites this week.
Mr Kearney said;
"The sites at Dublin Road, Ballycraigy and Rathkyle are unregulated and organised by small unrepresentative and unaccountable groups. These are rogue bonfires which have absolutely no cultural purpose. They are a scourge upon, and an invasion of community life where they are imposed.
"The bonfires in these estates are being built on common ground without permission or wider community consent. They are an environmental eyesore and constitute rubbish tips being left literally on peoples doorsteps since the gathering of materials began months ago. The scenes I examined especially at Dublin Road are an absolute disgrace. No section of the community should have to put up with such abuse and wanton disregard for the maintenance and upkeep of residential areas.
"All of these bonfires pose a massive threat to the local environment. The mass accumulation of rubber tyres in Ballycraigy for burning is a particular cause for concern, not only in that estate but also the wider Antrim area.
"Such rogue bonfires in Antrim have become synonymous with the most obscene sectarian and other forms of hate crime, specifically the burning of election posters, effigies and other cultural or political symbols. The resulting negative damage to the town's reputation and community relations is unacceptable.
"I will be writing to the PSNI to request that appropriate policing measures are put in place in the lead up to the 12th July to ensure that no hate crimes are allowed to be perpetrated this year on, or in the immediate vicinity of these bonfire sites, and if necessary to ensure that prosecutions are brought forward."