WEST Belfast MP Paul Maskey has appealed to the public to respect the Divis and Black Mountain following a gorse fire, apparently set deliberately, on Monday.
In recent years, large sections of the mountain have been burnt as arsonists have set fire to dry scrubland, including yellow-flowered gorse shrubs.
On Monday afternoon, smoke could be seen billowing from the mountain, which has seen an increase in fires during the current spell of dry weather.
Commenting following Monday’s incident Mr Maskey said: “The Divis and Black Mountain is one of our city’s greatest assets.
“In normal times, thousands from West Belfast and further afield flock to enjoy the mountain on a weekly basis.
“Families, walkers, runners and cyclists regularly adorn its hills and pathways.
“The spectacular views across Belfast, Antrim and as far as the Mourne Mountains are like no other.
“The mountain is also home to a rich and varied wildlife.
“It is a true natural beauty and one that we have been blessed to have on our doorstep.
“Yesterday, like many, I was saddened to see a fire blazing from the mountain.
“We cannot be certain of the cause of the fire, but I want to appeal to you all to please respect our environment.
“Starting a fire is not good fun, it is not a bit of craic and it is most definitely not harmless.
“It destroys our local environment and natural habitat for wildlife.
“It is also a waste of the fire services time.
“We are blessed to have the Black Mountain on our door step. Let’s cherish it, love it and do all that we can to preserve it.”