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21/09/2021

Derry police will support relevant agencies in removing bonfire material if deemed illegal

Bonfire-at-Meenan-Square-last-year1
The police service has warned that if any crimes are committed in relation to bonfires in Derry it will take action. Yesterday morning the police were in attendance as the Fountain bonfire was being built ahead of the July 12 celebrations. It is understood that materials are already being collected for the August 15 bonfire in the Bogside. The PSNI has faced criticism in the past for a perceived difference in approach to dealing with both bonfires. In response a PSNI spokesperson said: "Police engage with organisers of bonfires, where they have been identified, to discuss community safety." In a lengthier statement to the Derry News a PSNI officer stated that it has "no legislative power to remove bonfires or waste which has been illegally disposed at sites." It does however assist other agencies in removing materials when necessary. In August 2016 after a Council enforcement order was issued to the owner of Meenan Square, the police service was in attendance to "ensure there was no breach of the peace". Outlining the role of police in dealing with bonfires, Chief Inspector Bob Blemmings said: “Bonfires in Northern Ireland are a complex issue. We know that bonfires represent an important part of Northern Ireland’s culture and legacy, but we are also aware of the concern they can create among some communities. “PSNI are not the lead agency around bonfires however we are committed to working with various partners including local councils and other public and statutory bodies, as well as community representatives, to address any community safety issue issues linked to bonfires." He added: “While we have no legislative power to remove bonfires or waste which has been illegally disposed at sites, we will support other statutory agencies to carry out their role if required. “We will also fully investigate any complaints in relation to breach of the peace, allegations of antisocial behaviour, criminal damage or disorder in relation to bonfires and where we are aware of a crime being committed, an investigation will follow.”  

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