Sinn Féin calls for bonfire report to be published
Sinn Féin has called for the implementation of the recommendations of a report carried out by Dr Tom Frawley into decisions taken on bonfires last year in Belfast City Council.
The report was discussed at a special meeting this morning of Belfast’s City Council’s Strategic Policy & Resources Committee.
Sinn Féin Councillor Deirdre Hargey said:
“We got agreement that the report should be made public and published with the redaction of the names and positions of staff which could identify them but all other details of the report will be published.
“There will also be a summary of the investigation and communications part of the report.
“Sinn Féin recognises that not all the recommendations will be implemented before this summer, but the process for change starts from now. We need to look at implementation of the recommendations particularly around governance, accountability and adherence to the law.
“The council needs to deal with excesses around bonfires which pose risk or harm to people, property or the environment. Proper risk assessments need to be carried out on sites addressing these excesses.
“Current practice cannot continue where there is the burning of flags, election posters and effigies, which cause great offence to sections of the community.
“We do encourage and support communities who show the required leadership by dealing with the negative excesses associated with some unacceptable bonfires. They will have the support of all parties ‘who want to protect people, property and the environment’, as expressions of cultural identity.
“Statutory agencies can no longer remain passive or ignore the law, or their statutory duties when dealing with these issues. A step change is needed. A sense of lawlessness over the summer can no longer prevail.
“There will now be a process of moving forward on the recommendations and addressing the governance issues raised in the report and we will work to ensure there is both transparency and accountability.
“We are also looking to address governance mechanisms this year while agreeing to continue the bonfire and beacon scheme.
“However, Sinn Féin has proposed strengthening the scheme so that organisers have to take practical steps to deal with the negative excesses at some bonfires.
“If they don’t then sanctions should be applied and the interim arrangements should take steps necessary to protect life, property and the environment.”