Portadown residents “should not have to move out because of bonfire”

Posted By: July 09, 2019


Mairead Holland. Irish News. Belfast. Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A Sinn Féin councilor has said it “beggars belief” that residents in Portadown are being asked to move out of their homes because of bonfire safety fears.

Paul Duffy called on Armagh City, Banbridge, and Craigavon Borough (ABC) Council to “immediately move” to deal with the pyre in the Corcrain area.

Residents in 23 flats have been advised to leave their homes due to their proximity to the bonfire.

They have been offered a night’s accommodation in a youth hostel in Armagh and a community center is also being opened for their use.

However, Mr. Duffy said the Council and other statutory agencies have a “responsibility to ensure that residents are fully protected from the threat presented by bonfires”.

“The bonfire is on council land so ABC council has a statutory responsibility to protect residents, their homes and property and the environment.”

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said: “It cannot be right that anyone is being asked to leave their homes because the bonfire puts them and their property at risk.”

“Again, I ask for the bonfire builders to show maturity and reduce the size of the bonfire.”

Mr. Beattie said nobody was attempting to remove the bonfire, saying it has “considerable community support”, but “myself and other councilors have been contacted by multiple individuals who have genuine concerns around the effects such a large bon-fire may have on their property”.

It is understood more material was still being added to the bonfire ahead of being lit tomorrow – on its traditional date of July 10 – and that it is now wider than in previous years.

In a statement to The Irish News, the South Ulster Housing Association, which owns the flats, said: “The safety of our tenants is paramount, which is why we have taken NIFRS advice very seriously and have advised our residents in the proximity of Corcrain bonfire to vacate their premises before the bonfire is lit.”

A meeting of the council was held last night to update councilors on the situation.

The council said: “We are working with all associated statutory agencies, including NIFRS and the PSNI, to ensure contingency measures are in place to protect people and


It is understood these measures include boarding up windows, as in previous years.

In 2017 a burning bonfire toppled towards a block of flats near Sandy Row in Belfast during the Eleventh Night.

Crews stopped the fire spreading to the Victoria Place apartment block but the heat caused windows along the face of the building to crack, and a total of 22 apartments were damaged.