‘Bonfire could damage new £120k sports facility’

The bonfire has been built just yards from the Dunanney Centre and the new MUGA sports facility. INNT 26-810CON
The bonfire has been built just yards from the Dunanney Centre and the new MUGA sports facility. INNT 26-810CON

Concerns have been raised that a July 11 bonfire could cause extensive damage to a newly built sports facility in the Rathcoole estate.

The positioning of the bonfire, which is located close to the new Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) at The Diamond, has been criticised by local political representatives.

The £120,000 sports facility beside the Dunanney Centre on Rathmullan Drive was officially opened earlier this month. But now councillors fear it could be damaged by the heat of the July 11 bonfire, which is being built just yards away.

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Cllr John Scott believes that the MUGA facility is under threat and has called on the organisers of the bonfire to move it.

The UUP representative said: “Many people in Rathcoole enjoy the new pitch.

“The facility is now under threat because of the nearby bonfire.

“The sponge-like surface cost thousands and thousands of pounds. There is now the potential risk of this catching fire due to the heat and sparks caused by the bonfire.

“I would urge the organisers of the bonfire to move it away from the Dunanney Centre and the MUGA pitch.”

Branding the bonfire “a disgrace”, Alliance Cllr Billy Webb said: “I am very concerned with the situation.

“The council have spent so much money on the pitch facility beside the Dunanney Centre and there may be damage to it.

“I know that the local community are very concerned that the bonfire has reappeared there this year.”

DUP Cllr Thomas Hogg added: “There is the concern that any heat from the bonfire could affect the MUGA pitch.

“We are working hard to try and bring investment into Rathcoole and would be concerned about anything that might jeopardise that.”

His party colleague, Cllr Paul Hamill, expressed concerns about the proximity of the bonfire to the Dunanney Centre and revealed that it could cost around £800 for window coverings and other measures to protect the community building from the intense heat of the bonfire on the Eleventh Night.

Meanwhile, elected representatives from across the political spectrum have hit out at the large number of tyres on the bonfire and have called on the organisers to think about the potential health impacts on the local community.

“Burning tyres is not good for the community. A lot of harmful particles will fill the air and settle on the ground. It will not just be the people living close to the bonfire who will be affected, but people living further afield due to the particles travelling on the wind. I would encourage all areas to replace their bonfires with a beacon. It is much better for the area and the environment,” Cllr Scott said.

“It is disappointing that tyres have been included in the bonfire as these will release many harmful toxins into the atmosphere,” Cllr Hamill added.