Sinn Féin’s South Antrim MLA Declan Kearney has rounded on those responsible for gathering bonfire material on open ground owned by the NIHE at a Dublin Road estate in Antrim.
He said: “We are over four months out from the 12 th July celebrations and already large amounts of bonfire material has been dumped - without permission - across the green field site adjacent to Greenpark Drive.
“Those behind this annual environmental eyesore have no mandate from the residents of the area, who are victims of the disruption and annoyance caused. It is absolutely disrespectful to expect local families to put up with open space on this estate, otherwise available for recreation purposes, being turned into a dumping ground for months every year.
“I am on record defending the rights of all sections of our community to celebrate their cultural traditions, when that is done with respect for, and without causing offence to others. This rogue bonfire is an absolute disgrace. A small minority of extremists are responsible for making it happen and their behaviour is inexcusable.”
He added: “I have asked the Housing Executive to explain what it intends to do about illegal dumping on their land, and how they propose to mitigate the serious negative impact on the local environment, denial of common recreation space, and the undermining of the quality of life for tenants and rate payers in this part of the Dublin Road estate. I have also brought my serious concerns to the attention of the PSNI and Antrim and Newtownabbey Council officials.
“The NIHE must act decisively to prevent further disruption and distress being caused to those residents from both sections of our community who wish to live free from this type of unwarranted and unacceptable disturbance in their lives. I expect other agencies with responsibility to ensure that is achieved and to act appropriately.”