YOUNG people are gathering materials for a bonfire in the New Lodge against the wishes of the local community.

The controversial so-called anti-internment bonfire went ahead on August 8 last year despite ugly scenes in the area when youths confronted contractors and the PSNI who tried to remove the materials.

There were surreal scenes when a stand-off developed after local youths climbed on top of the bonfire to stop contractors accompanied by the police from taking it down.

Hoods also threatened to burn down the North Belfast Family Centre if their wood materials for the bonfire were removed.

Serious stabbing incidents were reported close to the bonfire and the Housing Executive confirmed damage had been done to two of their tower blocks in the area.

In an attempt to avoid a repeat of last year’s scenes, local Sinn Féin councillor JJ Magee says there are “constant” meetings to try and stay on top of things.

On Wednesday morning, the North Belfast News captured images of pallets being stored in a New Lodge alleyway.

Councillor Magee said: “There is young people collecting and we have had some lifts done to remove materials.

“We are engaging with local residents who are getting tortured. 

“We are hoping the young people will come to their senses and do something positive for the New Lodge community instead rather than collecting this wood which is negative

“I would commend all the local youth clubs who have done positive work with young people to try and deter them from such activity

“I am hopeful there will be no bonfire this year. The community does not want one and I surely don’t want a repeat of last year’s disgraceful scenes.”