Firefighters see 'significant decrease' in number of bonfire calls at start of Twelfth of July festivities

Firefighters see 'significant decrease' in number of bonfire calls at start of Twelfth of July festivities

Firefighters saw a "significant decrease" in the number of emergency calls due to loyalist bonfires in Northern Ireland at the start of the Twelfth of July festivities.

Large crowds gathered in Belfast city centre to watch an enormous pyre of wooden pallets set ablaze and emit a face-blistering heat to mark the main date in the Protestant loyal order parading season.

Fireworks and dance music accompanied the flames. Some people sported union flag regalia. Others sang traditional songs.

The blaze off the Sandy Row was adorned with Irish flags and a Sinn Fein poster. Celtic and Palestine flags were also set alight.

Scores of people gathered on Cavehill to watch the fires from high above Belfast.

Firefighters see 'significant decrease' in number of bonfire calls at start of Twelfth of July festivities

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service noted a "significant decrease" in activity compared to this time last year.

Between 6 and 11pm, 12-bonfire-related incidents were recorded.

On Thursday a stand-off over a contentious bonfire in Belfast ended after councillors backed down over plans to demolish it.

Belfast City Council abandoned an attempt to remove the structure, which has been built in a leisure centre car park, after its hired private contractor pulled out of the job following the appearance of sinister graffiti threats close to the site purporting to identify the company.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) had warned the council that sending in contractors, escorted by its officers, could have prompted serious disorder orchestrated by the East Belfast grouping of the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), with the risk of gun violence.

Firefighters see 'significant decrease' in number of bonfire calls at start of Twelfth of July festivities

A bonfire lit by friends of murdered loyalist community worker Ian Ogle had a Nazi flag on top of it.

It was a reference to those his family believe assaulted and killed him in January.

Firemen used hoses to prevent surrounding buildings from catching fire.

While most fires are lit without major incident, a number continue to prove contentious, with the authorities having taken action in recent years on structures deemed unsafe.

The bonfire in the Avoniel Leisure Centre car park has proved controversial this year.

Without a contractor willing to do the work, councillors acknowledged on Thursday that their plan to demolish it had to be axed.

They have instead urged police to pursue bonfire builders for trespassing on the Avoniel site.

Councillors, who have asked police to investigate how the names of contractors were leaked from confidential deliberations, have also agreed to form working group to see how to handle the bonfire issue in coming years.

More on this topic

Safety fears prevent council contractors removing bonfire site graffitiSafety fears prevent council contractors removing bonfire site graffiti

Orange Order vows to ‘re-energise’ unionist politics in event of general electionOrange Order vows to ‘re-energise’ unionist politics in event of general election

Thousands of Orangemen march to mark Twelfth of JulyThousands of Orangemen march to mark Twelfth of July

Belfast bonfire contractor leak ‘highly unlikely’ to have come from policeBelfast bonfire contractor leak ‘highly unlikely’ to have come from police

More in this Section

Micheál Martin calls for new Department of Higher Education and ResearchMicheál Martin calls for new Department of Higher Education and Research

Government set to oppose EU daylight saving time plansGovernment set to oppose EU daylight saving time plans

Court hears man threatened to kill garda and her husband and made 'offensive' phonecalls to four othersCourt hears man threatened to kill garda and her husband and made 'offensive' phonecalls to four others

More than 50% of Irish people admit to wasting waterMore than 50% of Irish people admit to wasting water


Lifestyle

Christy Collard and Robin O’Donovan are parents to six children, but sustainability is still a cornerstone of their busy lives in west Cork.The family that composts together stays together

Ron Howard was happy to let the spirit of Luciano Pavarotti shine through in his documentary on the great tenor, writes Laura Harding.Hitting the right note with new Luciano Pavarotti documentary

Prevention is so much better than cure, says Fiann Ó Nualláin, who offers gardeners timely advice on guarding face and body against those potentially damaging ultra-violet rays this season and beyond.Gardening: Be skincare-savvy for summer

It's never been more important to choose flowers and trees according to their environmental needs, says Peter DowdallIn these times of climate change, choose plants to weather all conditions

More From The Irish Examiner