Belfast City Council moved into a Ballymurphy street this week to remove a towering pile of wood intended for an internment night bonfire.
The pile, 15 feet in height, had been collected by local youths over the past six weeks and placed on a derelict site between two homes in Whitecliff Parade.
The unstable bonfire had been causing a headache for residents who contacted Sinn Féin. Local reps have been working closely in recent weeks with the PSNI and Belfast City Council to ensure the wood was lifted before it could be burnt.
Local MLA Pat Sheehan welcomed the move.
“We welcome the culmination of several weeks work which saw the wood being collected for a bonfire removed from Whitecliff Parade,” he said.
“This wood and other debris was being stored between two residential homes and the pallet pile was as high as the houses themselves,” he said. “We have been working with the police and Belfast City Council to secure this site and we and residents were happy when they came this week and removed the wood and erected a security fence.
“Whitecliff Parade is not the forgotten street of Ballymurphy. The residents have our full support as we all work to try and eradicate anti-social activity in the area. We would urge anyone who sees people tampering with this new fence to contact the police or the Community Safety Forum. We would also ask parents to exercise parental responsibility and keep their kids away from any type of anti-social activity.”
The West Belfast MLA said anti-social activity centring on the August 9 bonfire in recent years has been disrespectful to the families of those killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre of August 1971.
“The Ballymurphy March of Truth will take place in the estate in a few weeks and we will not have the memories of those who died in the massacre sullied by anti-social activity,” he said.
“Last year’s bonfire saw people hospitalised and there was widespread and heavy drinking. This is disrespectful to the memory of those who died on these dates and we are glad it won’t happen this year.”