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Residents see red over orangefest

By Stephen McVey

LOCALS left to deal with the aftermath of South Belfast’s Twelfth parades have hit out after piles of rubbish were left in the wake of marchers and supporters.

Public urination and boozing, street fires and littering are some of the issues that have been passed on to Belfast City Council and local MLAs since last week’s parades

Helen Farley, a 21-year-old recent graduate, lives on Fane Street, just off the Lisburn Road where the main route passes. She was told that the rubbish would be cleared the day after the Twelfth, but said debris was still visible five days later, and described the street as “an absolute state”.

“There was rubbish everywhere. Barbecues and street drinking on Thursday resulted in empty bottles and meat packages that could attract rats,” she said. “The council were meant to come and clear a sofa that had been left lying. It was then set on fire near my house on the Friday. It was frightening to have the fire and smoke fumes right beside the wall of my house,” she said.

South Belfast MLA, Conall McDevitt said a proactive stance must be taken by the organisers and the police.

“Every year after the Twelfth, the Lisburn Road and Balmoral area are left in a shocking state,” he said. There are two main concerns that need to be addressed: Firstly the PSNI need to actively target people who are urinating and drinking in public. Secondly, with tens of thousands of people on the streets, the Orange order has an obligation to provide ‘Portaloo’ facilities.

Gary Spedding, an Alliance Party member and student representative from the Holyland area, said cops should adopt measures for dealing with rowdy students, when tackling parade problems.

“It is important to respect the Twelfth celebrations and the sensitivities surrounding this time of year,” he said.

“But littering and public urination is messing up the area. People are drinking right in front of the police in no alcohol zones. The PSNI are quick to come down on students in September for public drinking. There does not seem to be the same urgency to enforce the law during this event. The law is the law regardless of the time of year or who is involved.”

SDLP MLA and Policing Board member Conall McDevit has called for even-handed policing.

“It is critically important to consistently police all events in the same way, no matter who is involved,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Belfast City Council spokesman defended the clean-up operation which kicks in immediately after the parades finish.

“The bonfire in Fane Street is on NI Railways property and therefore it is not our responsibility to remove it or the resulting debris,” he said.

“We provide a round the clock service to remove litter and to ensure as little disturbance as possible to residents. We have inspected the Fane Street area as recently as this morning and we are satisfied that it is of a high standard of cleanliness, where it is our responsibility to clean. Residents can be assured that we will continue to provide a comprehensive cleansing service in future.”


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