Fires in America this time of year are often the result of drought.

In Northern Ireland, history is often the spark.

A bid to stamp out young people in nationalist areas building bonfires to commemorate the introduction of internment in 1971 has been launched with republican activists carrying out early morning raids on woodpiles.

The bonfires are seen as a mirror image of loyalist pyres which every year burn nationalist iconography including flags, election posters and effigies of nationalist politicians.

However, there is a united political will amongst nationalist politicians to prevent the bonfires and for the last number of weeks Sinn Féin representatives have been removing wood where they find it.

Belfast councilman JJ Magee has lifted hundreds of pallets from the New Lodge area and says he will continue to try and prevent the bonfires being built in conjunction with the community who have voiced their opposition to the fires.

“I want to thank everyone that has assisted in the removal of bonfire materials in the New Lodge area in recent weeks as together as a community we have intervened to prevent these anti-social displays,” he said.

And he continued: “Almost 200 pallets have already been removed from multiple storage points often sited against family homes causing distress to residents and posing the significant danger of fire.

“This community have made our opposition to bonfires crystal clear through consultation and publicly expressed support for the removal of wood and rubbish.

“There is nothing political nor cultural about these activities by a small number of people who only bring misery and destruction upon the New Lodge.

“Statutory agencies have a huge responsibility to assist in the removal of these materials and we will give strong political leadership in support of the people of the New Lodge and their wish to live free from anti-social behavior.

“We are sending a clear message, don’t dump your rubbish in the New Lodge and if you know of where materials are being stored let us know and we will work to have it removed.”

Loyalists bonfires are frequently massive affairs fueled not just by wooden pallets but also by car and truck tires.

 

 

 

Sinn Féin's JJ Magee (right) and a member of the community removed wood from the New Lodge areaIrish Echo