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Businesses leave pallets out for bonfire builders

NUISANCE: Youths bring pallets given to them by local firms to the New Lodge using a borrowed trolley NUISANCE: Youths bring pallets given to them by local firms to the New Lodge using a borrowed trolley
By Michael Jackson

A LOCAL rep has pleaded with North Belfast businesses to stop providing wooden pallets for bonfire builders.

Youths from the New Lodge and other areas were once again spotted collecting bonfire materials after the hard work of local community activists saw the earlier removal of pallets from the Seven Hills.

In a worrying development, a number local businesses have been leaving pallets outside their premises for anti-social elements to collect.

In previous years, the New Lodge has witnessed widespread destruction and criminality linked to the bonfire, with community activists, including Sinn Féin Councillor JJ Magee, leading efforts to remove bonfire materials.

Speaking to the North Belfast News, Councillor Magee urged local businesses to stop contributing to anti-social behaviour.
“I would plead with business owners not to give young people these pallets,” he said.

“They don’t know the experience of residents, particularly the old age pensioners, who are being put through hell by these young people. Cars are getting damaged and people’s quality of life is shocking. Businesses who are leaving out pallets need to take some of the responsibility because they are part of the problem.”

Cllr Magee also asked residents to continue reporting incidents of anti-social behaviour linked to the bonfire.
“I would like to thank those residents who have been reporting both the anti-social behaviour and the locations where young people have been hiding pallets under cover of darkness,” he added.

“All bonfires in nationalist areas are unwanted by the vast majority of residents. There are people living near the bonfires in unionist areas who feel powerless to speak out against the bonfires, but people in the likes of the New Lodge have been speaking out against bonfires and the anti-social behaviour for a number of years, and in particular this year.

“This antisocial behaviour happens all year round and it increases at this time of year. Parents need to understand that while they think their young people aren’t causing any damage or doing anything wrong, they are getting sucked into this climate of antisocial behaviour.
“They feel they can stand up to residents and then that continues all year round. It has ramifications for all parts of their lives because they feel empowered to face up to people and shout them down,” he added.

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