Council has no plans to develop republican bonfire site

A bonfire in the Longlands area in August 2017.
A bonfire in the Longlands area in August 2017.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council has said it has no plans to develop land which has been the site of controversial bonfires in recent years.

The site in the Longlands area of the borough, which the council did not realise it owned until last month, has been used by republican youths to hold anti-internment fires.

Local community and political representatives have claimed the August blazes are not wanted by the majority of residents and have called for the land to be developed.

Commenting on the issue, a council spokesperson said: “Council has no plans for the development of the site. Sometimes certain small pieces of land which are not regularly utilised by the council, as in the case of this land, are not easily identifiable as being council owned and can require a more detailed land title investigation.

“Initial searches conducted by council officers indicated that the land in question was not registered and at that stage it was officers’ understanding that the land was not owned by the council.”

The spokesperson added: “Subsequent to these enquiries, more detailed searches (conducted in September 2017) have since confirmed the council holds this land on a long term lease. The council is currently assessing all council land with a view to ensuring that it is all registered with Land and Property Services.”

Asked what the council intends to do if the site is used by bonfire builders again next year, the spokesperson stated: “The council operates a bonfire management programme and should any group wish to come forward, their proposals will be considered within the programme.”