Residents forced out by grant-funded bonfire mayhem

Residents forced out by grant-funded bonfire mayhem

Residents living next to a loyalist ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfire site have  had to be moved out of their homes due to the hazard presented by one of  tonight’s planned infernos.

Windows and doors of more than 50 homes had to be boarded up at huge  cost after the fire service warned that lives and property could be at  risk. The bonfire sits on land owned by the Stormont administration’s  Department of Regional Development just off the Newtownards Road in east  Belfast.

Loyalists have ignored the concerns of elderly residents who have  already evacuated, and have been making the huge tower of material even  bigger, despite claims to the contrary.

Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile said: “The fact that statutory  authorities along with community leaders have ceded responsibility to a  group of children building this bonfire is unfathomable. This bonfire  clearly poses a danger to people’s lives, their livelihood and homes.”

Several families in Chobham Street, off Ravenscroft Avenue, moved out  yesterday and those who remain say they are petrified”for their own  safety and that of their homes.

They said that the department had ignored their pleas to take action to  protect their properties. The residents, who were too frightened to be  named, said that endless meetings with the officials and the Fire  Service had got them nowhere.

One homeowner said: “Nobody is willing to take action. Rather than act  now to prevent disaster, their attitude seems to be that they’ll just  mop up the mess after the Eleventh Night.”

Bonfires are set to be lit around the north on Saturday night ahead of  the Orange Order’s Twelfth parades. The bonfires are notoriously  dangerous events from which sectarian violence frequently erupt.

The bonfires themselves traditionally have a core of tyres down the  middle surrounded by hundreds of wooden pallets, before they are covered  in flags, sectarian slogans, nationalist election posters, figures in  effigy and other assorted death threats.

Many of the groups behind the bonfires controversially receive  “community grants” of over two thousand pounds from the Stormont  authorities, despite ignoring efforts to lay down guidelines and  procedures.

Among the fires to receive the grant is one notoriously located  immediately beside the Days Hotel in the city centre. The fire, which  was set alight earlier this month, has since been rebuilt ahead of  tonight’s event.

HACKED TO DEATH

In a separate development, a senior loyalist paramilitary and another  loyalist were brutally hacked to death using a samurai sword on  Wednesday night.

Veteran Ulster Defence Association (UDA) Colin ‘Bap’ Lindsay  and another man, Stanley Wightman, were found with severe injuries in  the living room of Lindsay’s home in the Belvoir estate in south  Belfast. Lindsay died at the scene while Wightman succumbed to severe  head injuries on Friday.

In an unusual step, the PSNI named a man arrested in connection with the  attack as Albert Armstrong, and publicly ruled out a loyalist feud as  the cause. There have been suggestions locally that increased  drug-taking by loyalists at this time of year may have been partly  responsible for the frenzied attack, which was carried out using  Lindsay’s own blade.



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