Thousands to be spent on bonfire programme

A bonfire in east Antrim last year.
A bonfire in east Antrim last year.

Almost £50,000 is set to be spent by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council on this year’s bonfire management programme.

Following a vote, members of the council’s Community Planning and Regeneration Committee approved a list of 17 sites to be included in the scheme across the borough, with a budget of £48,000 being allocated.

Of these, 13 will be in Newtownabbey, with four of these sites opting for a beacon this year. The beacons will be used in Kelburn Park in Burnside, Anderson Park in Doagh, New Mossley and Old Mossley.

The Parkmount site in Mallusk will not have a bonfire or a beacon this year. The eight other sites will continue to have a bonfire. They are Grange Drive in Ballyclare, Forthill Drive in Ballyduff, Abbeytown Square and Devenish Drive in Monkstown, Queenspark, Foyle Hill and Dunnaney in Rathcoole and Knockenagh Avenue in Rathfern. n

The Times understands that over recent years, Doagh Cultural Society has requested some modifications to the beacon for Anderson Park. The proposed modified structure has been discussed and approved by the NIFRS.

The majority of committee members approved the recommendation that modifications to the Doagh beacon be made at a cost of approximately £2,000. A council spokesperson said: “The beacon for Doagh will be modified to provide a larger base.”

The local authority is currently in possession of four beacons, but five sites in total across the borough have requested a beacon this year. The majority of committee members in attendance approved the recommendation that a new beacon be purchased at a cost of £3,500 to enable the five sites which have requested beacons to proceed.

Commenting on the allocation of up to £2,700 to be given to each group for July 11 festivals, the council spokesperson added: “17 sites have signed up to the programme for 2017, including three sites that will not be having a bonfire or beacon. This is in line with the council’s agreed programme. The council will directly procure all the services associated with the programme.”

The recommendations were approved by Ald William Ball and seconded by Cllr Vera McWilliam. The proposal went to a vote after Alliance representative, Cllr John Blair said he could not support the move.

Cllr Blair said: “I want to make clear that I recognise the progress that has been made in some of the areas and some of these schemes. I’m very grateful, not only to the officers involved, not only for pursuing this, but for the people involved for quite often coming up with the initiative.

“However, I remain opposed to the funding of bonfires and festivals, unless until the issue of dealing with the burning of images of individuals or national emblems is on the table and for that reason I can’t support what’s in front of us.”

The recommendation was carried after nine members voted in favour of the proposal, while three voted against it.