Would you mind moving out of your home we would like to risk burning down our whole neighbourhood?

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 13.14.53I blame the pallets. Back the olden days, when I was young, there was no way of building 11th Night bonfires high enough to scare the neighbours out of their homes. Pallets are eminently combustible, readily available and endlessly (it seems) stackable.

And now, no one in authority knows what to do other than tell people whose homes might burn down to get out of them. Veteran local councillor Jim Rogers is still trying to use the gently gently approach…

He said attempts had also been made to try to persuade the builders to reduce its size. “We have tried to work with the bonfire builders, we’re not against the bonfire, but where there is a risk to life, where there is a risk to property, action needs to be taken, but unfortunately they’re adamant that the bonfire is not going to be reduced in size,” he said. “What I’m asking them now to do is to behave in a responsible fashion”.

Yes, Jim. But it seems they are both hearing you, and ignoring you. Political policing models, how are ya!

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  • the rich get richer

    East Belfast bonfire: Residents moved due to safety concerns – BBC News

    “Its my Bonfire and I will burn your house If I Want to !”

    “Its My Culture and I will burn your house If I Want To !”

  • Mirrorballman

    Paramilitaries are behind bonfires like this, plain and simple. (Unelected) Jim Wilson provides cover for them on a daily basis and (elected) Jim Rogers fails in his public duty to call for the forces of law to protect the life and property of his own constituents.

    We will continue to have issues like this every single year while Loyalist paramilitaries are given free reign to rule these communities how they see fit. The Chief Constable should hang his head in shame and resign.

  • barnshee

    Reduce it or have it removed

  • murdockp

    Note the Blue pallets above are all stolen. They are owned by companies such as GKN and CHEP and all these companies environmental policies state they recycle their pallets at the end of their life. These companies are actually breaking the law be letting their product end up in bonfires and the bonfire builders are breaking the law having stolen the property in the first place.

    What does the NI government and police do…….nothing.

  • murdockp

    The following company owns the blue pallets.

    Chep (Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool) – rental pallet – colour blue – UK tel 01932 850085 – the forerunner of national pallet pools originating from the Brambles pool of Australia in the 1950s and now the largest rental pool. GKN Chep was established in the UK in 1975 starting with the most common UK size of 1200 x 1000mm. A main reason for starting operations in the UK at that time rather than elsewhere in Europe, was that there was no significant rental or exchange scheme nor much use of the Europallet. Known by everybody as ‘Chep’ their pallets are available in several sizes from the ‘half-pallet’ up to the common 1200 x 1000mm size.

  • Thomas Barber

    The only people at this point in time who can change this annual inaction from the PSNI regarding the illegality of loyalist bonfires is the solisitors and barristors who can through the courts through the judges and magistrates show their objection to the law being applied to some while a blind eye is turned by the PSNI to the widescale theft, destruction of property, and pollution of the environment in loyalist areas. This lawlessness is subtly supported by unionist politicians who are unable or unwilling to face up to the challenge in changes how loyalist culture is displayed and portrayed in our society.

  • Brian O’Neill

    A caller to the Nolan show asked why they are building houses next to bonfire sites.

  • murdockp

    you would cry too if it happened to you.

    I think we have a song here.

  • mickfealty

    Paraphrase it for us quickly Brian?

  • Gingray

    Ah the nostalgic view of the twelfth – it was all so much better back in the day before those uppity Catholics started to complain. And then the environmentalists got rid of the tyres, shame on them, its an evil green conspiracy.

    Its no surprise that on this blog ZERO mention is made in the OP about the election posters on said bonfires – Alliance and Sinn Fein both. It appears that the loyalist love of burning the symbols of their opponents is now just accepted as normal and not worthy of note.

    Would this be acceptable anywhere else in the UK? Look what happens when the Union Jack is burned in England. So obviously not.

    I understand that some people want to promote the idea that
    bonfires and bands are great, while ignoring the inherent hatred in events that
    are built on celebrating and attacking another community.

  • mickfealty

    What sort of nonsense is this? Did you miss the headline Gingray?

  • chrisjones2

    Most of these scum are NIHE tenants. Why doesn’t the Housing Executive evict them for anti social behavior. Why don’t the police simply remove all this stolen property?

    Is the Ombudsman investigating? If not, why not?

    Complete breakdown of law and order

  • chrisjones2

    Given that the peelers seem to ‘own’ so many ion the UDA and UVF why isn’t this stopped.

    What are they and we paying these goons for?

  • Gingray

    You need to be more specific I am afraid.

  • mickfealty

    For slow learners, just read the headline, really slowly?

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    I heard him myself. Worthy of Jonathan Swift.

  • Dan

    Why don’t the PSNI do their job and charge those building bonfires which threaten housing with ‘breach of the peace’?
    Enough of this tiptoeing around the sensitivities of selfish fools.

  • Gingray

    Sorry Mick, not seeing it – what is your objection?

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    In all fairness Mick, the headline needs correct punctuation. I’d recommend a colon before ‘we’ but a comma would be acceptable.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    State bodies are ignoring the problem because they don’t want to be blamed for starting a riot.

    When the PSNI took down union flags outside a Catholic church in Ballyclare a few years ago, the UVF orchestrated a riot in the area, burning buses and destroying property. Subsequently, and outrageously, the PSNI apologized for provoking the riot by taking down the flags. The die was then cast – no agency, including the police, would ever touch any “cultural display” again.

    Blaming the PSNI for not doing anything is shooting the messenger. They’re not doing anything because politicians refused to back them when they take action. This is the kind of society we apparently want. The only way it will change will be if the Police Board instructs the Chief Constable to begin enforcing the matter.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    “unwilling” gets my vote. The unionists think that staying quiet wins them votes.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Actually I don’t think paramilitaries organise and run all the bonfires. Sure, they’re never far from the scene. But these structures are by and large a collective community effort. Those involved will resort to rioting if any action is taken against bonfires without waiting for the go-ahead from the men of violence.

  • Dan

    I don’t give a fiddlers if politicians refuse to back them.
    I expect these costly civil servants to do the jobs they are handsomely paid to do.
    If they refuse to do it, they’ll lose whatever remnants of credibility they have left.

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    So this is what ‘civil and religious liberty’ has led us to.
    I recall someone once saying that freedom comes with responsibility. The same person claimed that shame shows us that other people exist. Is NI society a civilisation? Is NI society based on co-operation and mutual obligation? Is NI society not subject to the rule of law and its consistent application?
    If we justify such feral saturnalias or dangerous carnivalesques as safety valves then what does that say about NI society?

  • Granni Trixie

    Hate to say it but it seems to get Gavin Robinson votes!

  • Catcher in the Rye

    police are ultimately accountable to the electorate via the politicians we elect. The politicians we elect reflect the kind of society we want.

  • the rich get richer

    ” I blame the pallets ” Quoted from Mick Fealty above.

    If only we had known for all these years…….

    Its the pallets that caused all the problems for so many years.

  • chrisjones2

    So if its a organised rabble not organised by paramilitaries why are they so hard to take down?

  • the rich get richer

    If they do succeed in burning down a street or two will they have to be allowed to burn down a street or two every year…..! !

  • murdockp

    That is a generalist accusation and does not take into account the global nature of pallets and the different groups that they are affiliated with. American Pallets should not be confused with European ones and then each of these can be broken down into Blue, Red and Yellow pallets and don’t forget that most populous pallet group, the natural wood and that is without us even considering plastic pallets. Not should which of these groups a causing all the trouble, probably the American ones coming over here…….

  • Catcher in the Rye

    they’re not “organised” in any sense.

    You don’t need to be “organised” to start a riot. You just need a collection of angry people willing to be riotous.

  • Dan

    The police are increasingly accountable to a load of politicians we haven’t elected!

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Houl on a minute.

    NI is so litigious that ruddy ‘rubber duck races’ can have prohibitive insurance costs for public liability so how come the bonfires which can be sometimes close to homes (or petrol stations) are not in sight of the ambulance chasers?

    If you’re going to be burnt out of your home anyway you might as well get a fat cheque out of it…

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Gingray, does every other bonfire post not cover those points?
    Just because Mick has omitted well thrashed out points doesn’t mean he doesn’t regard them as valid, rather he might be crediting us all with the intelligence to accept them as ‘givens’.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Can we have some whataboutery please to defend this? http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-33472808
    Come on now, don’t be shy, let’s have it.

  • The Firemen
  • Catcher in the Rye

    Nope, they aren’t. If the politicians got together and agreed that those bonfires had to go, the police and the other authorities would remove them.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    you’d have to identify those organising it.

    And if you successfully took them to court to claim damages they wouldn’t have the money to pay up.

  • the rich get richer

    It must be harder to get that burning people out of their houses out of their system than we realise ! !

  • Mirrorballman

    I didn’t say they run all bonfires. They run bonfires like this one however and many others of the more sinister kind throughout Northern Ireland. Hence the fear of politicians and police to tackle them. Everyone knows it.

  • Gingray

    Am Ghobsmacht
    Perhaps, I’ve not noticed other bonfire blogs this year before this one tho.

    I would disagree with you on what is accepted as a given in terms destruction of the others symbols. It’s been very rare to hear a unionist commentator or politician condemn it, but common to hear it defended as part of their culture.

    Personally I think unionism and BritishNess are more that just anti nationalist but it’s easier to be against something than decide what you are for.


  • Gingray

    Why the yellow card?

  • chrisjones2

    Nope….its absolutely clear

  • chrisjones2

    …and isnt that what we employ the police to deal with – to keep order and enforce the law

  • Janos Bingham

    Have a punt at the landowners. Sue the DRD, HE or Council for being vicariously liable for what is happening on their property.

    Ok so it may not fly; or a judge may enforce action by the landowner to clear the site. That may provide ‘cover’ for owner to say the ‘judge made me do it’. It would also gee-up the police to protect the owner’s staff while they complied with the court’s direction.

    AG called for “whataboutery” earlier: what about all those roadside memorials to various terrorist groups? Built without planning permission, and sometimes on public land. Again no action is taken so that the natives are not made restless. (Ok so they’re not dangerous as such and only offend against aesthetic sensibilities but the point remains)

    Much like Joe, or Josephine, Soap building their own private rubbish pyre, try to erect some personal edifice and watch how quickly officialdom jumps with pen, paper and enforcement notice in hand.

  • Dan

    I was thinking more of the politicians co-opted into Stormont

  • submariner

    That has to be a wind up call, not even your average Loyalist is that stupid.

  • Gareth Murray

    That was my reaction. At one point I think he’s holding his laughter in.

  • Sprite

    I’m just disgusted with this situation. How can we possibly accept that the police, Belfast City Council, DRD and the Housing Executive are all prepared to allow a bunch of hoodlums to put people out of their homes for the sake of a mega-bonfire?

    I’d ban these huge bonfires and make the police enforce the ban relentlessly.

    Seems to me these mega-bonfires are just examples of small-man syndrome amongst a bunch of macho-masochists who somehow have their egos inflated by how many wooden pallets and car tyres they can pile up. It’s beyond pathetic.

    I wonder how many of the bonfire builders even know why bonfires are important on the 11th night and what they actually signify. They were not a sign of defiance, they were lit to pass on the news that the Williamite army had landed. They were signals of hope for the Protestant people, not the towers of doom they’ve become over the last 20 years.

  • Gopher

    Perhaps if the bonfire was doing 35 mph in a thirty zone the PSNI would have no difficulty in applying a tax and three penalty points. But as it is stationary, criminal, has no income, no fixed identifiable asset pertaining to gainful employment and as it will be the centre piece to other and numerous illegal acts the PSNI are powerless to act. Do we really need glorified traffic wardens on rediculous wages?

  • Robin Keogh

    It would be good it we could depend on the law of the land and its good officers to step in a resolve this issue, but as the fleg riots have shown us, the extreme elements in Unionism are quick enough to lob petrol bombs, attack the police and cause mayhem anywhere and everywhere if there is even a sniff of oppression against ‘Are Kulture’. The LAD page on facebook is full of examples of how loyalists exact revenge against democracy and decency. In many ways the police are handicapped by the reality of the consequences of interference. Sadly, it will take a tragedy before any real action will be taken.

  • barnshee

    “Blaming the PSNI for not doing anything is shooting the messenger. They’re not doing anything because politicians refused to back them when they take action. This is the kind of society we apparently want. The only way it will change will be if the Police Board instructs the Chief Constable to begin enforcing the matter.”

    Cast your mind back -The then police /army stopped an illegal parade– we ended up with the dead of “Bloody Sunday”

    The cops etc are not completely stupid (well maybe not) but the one thing they are not going to do is be caught for another “Bloody Sunday so suck it up thats the name of the game now

  • barnshee

    Got it in nearly in one
    ” I think unionism and BritishNess is—- just anti nationalist”

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Cast your mind back -The then police /army stopped an illegal parade– we ended up with the dead of “Bloody Sunday”

    Not even a vaguely equivalent scenario.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    The authorities (of which the police are part, but only one part) have two ways of avoiding riots :

    1. enforce the law
    2. appease the bonfire builders and flag hangers

    They’re choosing (2) because that’s what our politicians want them to do.

  • Catcher in the Rye

    All very good (and informative) points.

    But a householder would have to bring the legal action. Which brings you back to an individual being identified as initiating action against the bonfire.

    Someone could sue on their behalf, but if I’m right, you have to be one of the interested parties (ie a homeowner or tenant) to sue.

  • barnshee

    Claptrap b.s. arose as a reaction to an illegal event. These fires are illegal the cops won’t move because of the likely events should they do so. Suck it up its how it is

  • raymonds back

    Let’s not put all the blame on the pallets. Let’s bemoan the lack of proper journalism, the type which might make it its business to find out which companies the pallets and tyres originated from, how they ended up where they are now and where the machinery came from to stack them so high. I have little hope of this happening though in light of the recent abject ‘let’s be cheerleaders for great little Belfast’ displayed by all BBC journalists during the Tall Bore Festival. Have they never heard of objectivity? It’s just a pity the Tall Ships are not here this week so that the world could see their masts being stolen to provide structure for the fires of hate that kick off the annual madness. As with all the illegal flag protests last year, this is mob rule and the consequence of Protestant politicians playing the Orange card for so long with no idea of how to control it. No Protestants I know go anywhere near bonefires anymore because they have ended up being beaten up at them when someone decides they do not recognise their face. It’s culture Jim, but not as anyone in the rest of humanity knows it. One solution is money, but not the usual doling out of it. As with Orange marches wanting to walk where they are not wanted, charge the communities involved for the policing, fire service and cleaning up costs of these events. And stop giving any grants for bonefires, all of which are illegal – not that that seems to exercise the PSNI. Why are the PSNI so loathe to deal with a riot anyway? They have had all the training, and then can make all the false injury and trauma claims afterwards.

  • not sp12

    “I blame the pallets.”

    Agreed Mick, those autonomous self stacking pallets are the problem.
    Perhaps you could combine forces with Jim Rodgers and have the police investigate them alongside his call for the full force of the law to fall upon those dastardly garages that are forcing the poor young fellahs to dispose of all those tyres in a giant WKD and Buckie sponsored conflagration.
    The sooner we wipe out the scourge of suicidal pallets and tyre dealers the sooner we can get back to the good old days of the 11th night bonfires (bonefires?) with environmentally friendly Mary statues, foreign flags and effigies of priests.
    Something all the community can enjoy apparently.

  • Reader

    murdockp: Chep (Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool) – rental pallet – colour blue
    They should paint their pallets green. That might help.

  • Janos Bingham

    Protecting the litigants is indeed a significant matter.

    There are examples in the recent past when involved individuals anonymity was enforced by the court. I’m thinking in particular about seeking injunctions to curtail loyalist parades or protests. (I recall it as either relating to the Short Strand or North Belfast)

    Perhaps an NGO like Friends of the Earth could take it on? Again they may too become under threat, or at the very least become regarded by some as ‘republican’ environmentalists.

    Of course it’s easy for the likes of me to pontificate about this. I’m living out in the sticks and won’t get a whiff of a bonfire. Nor am I ever likely to have my principles on this subject challenged and be expected to put my head above the parapet- even though I may have the ‘comfort’ of wearing a court supplied ‘balaclava’ to hide my features.

    It’s all a very horrible situation. My sympathy lies with the residents who’ve had their human rights trampled on by the failure by statutory bodies to manage the activities on the property they control (Article 8, the right to respect a person’s private and family life – including his home).

    And on that point where is the Human Rights Commission in all this? Can it not act on behalf of citizens? Is this chthonian wildness always to be the norm when groups, of whatever political hue, with alleged ‘community’ support are permitted to run amok?

  • jimmacdonaldstash

    With witch hunts and bonfires abound it feels like we’re still in the darkages,Certainly the age of reason seems to have passed us by.Where is the witch finder general when you need him!?

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    If you haven’t noticed the other bonfire blogs and their familiar content (annually) then fair enough, my comments are undeserved.

    Is this the case?

    I think you misunderstood my point about the givens (or rather I wrote the point in a rather incomprehensible fashion).

    What I meant was that all the negative points which you accused Mick of ignoring could be taken as a given and don’t necessarily need to be re-iterated every time we have a bonfire blog i.e. the raison d’etre of most of these blogs is the horrendous levels of disrespect that accompanies them e.g. burning of religious symbols, tri-colours, effigies and whatever else may be deemed to be ‘disloyal’ at the time.

    “It’s been very rare to hear a unionist commentator or politician condemn it, but common to hear it defended as part of their culture.

    Yes this is as frustrating as it is cowardly.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Could we have a list of bonfires that have no complaints against them or media controversy and list that do?

    IF there is a common trend of hmmmm, I dunno, let’s just say perhaps that most of the bonfires that have complaints or controversy might have a common theme of dangerous proximity, tyres and mind boggling disrespect vs a theme of bonfires that have no complaints and none (or little) of the above then could we then agree that it’s not a witch hunt against bonfires or Protestant culture but rather a plea for common sense?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I see, cheers.

    BTW, I went for a spin up the coast and went past Finvoy where they have built a tyre laden bonfire right next to a petrol station.

    It looks not THAT close at first but when I went in for petrol I noticed that some of the material had spilled into the station’s car park.

    I mean a flaming tyre could easily travel the distance from the fire to the pumps (or the road).

    Surely there must be an authority that can intervene with this?

    It’s so potentially dangerous that it’s worthy of being in a ridiculous comedy show.

  • submariner


    This is being built on a main road in Belfast causing an illegal obstruction of the highway Whats the bets that the PSNI will neither remove the obstruction or prosecute those causing it

  • puffen

    When did being Orange equate with being British?

  • AndyB

    You couldn’t make it up. By that logic, the loyalists were obviously building bonfires on top of the Belfast and Co Down Railway mainline back in the 19th century, because they were there first, weren’t they?

  • barnshee

    You miss the point Orange =not part of the ROI (yes I know about Rosnowleagh)

  • Gareth Murray

    Is it really against the law for a company not to follow its best practice manual on recycling?

  • Gingray

    Am Ghobsmacht
    Your comments could be deserved, I just may have missed it. I understand what you are saying, that we don’t need to rehash the same points year on year.

    My view is simple – until pro union commentators and politicians start challenging the accepted norm that it’s ok to be anti Catholic or nationalist then bonfires and marches are tainted.

    Did I miss a recent story on the BBC or UTV, or in the BT or Newsletter, or even Slugger where this was challenged from within?

    Could you imagine if the Scottish saltire was burned in England – would politicians and reporters turn a blind eye?

  • Paddy Reilly

    Article 8 is about privacy, and not appropriate in these
    circumstances. A better clause to pursue would be Protocol 1 Article 1 “the right to the peaceful enjoyment of property”.

  • Lorcs1

    It’s infuriating that the powers that be simply turn a blind-eye to all sorts to criminal behaviour due to the risk of public disorder.

    The PSNI have effectively sanctioned mob rule in Northern Ireland.

    I saw a picture this morning of the Assistant Chief Constable standing grinning from ear-to-ear, whilst just behind him a bonfire burned in the middle of the street outside a number of homes and businesses. I can’t help but think that some of those buildings may have an OAP inside fearing for their life, or a hard-working business fearing for their livelihood. All the while, the ACC is outside gleefully posing for a press oppurtunity.

    Why can’t the authorities take the same tack as the flag protests and observe the offences and carry out arrests/prosecutions at a later date?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Amen to all of the above Gingray.

    I’d go even further.

    Unionist politicians should develop a set of principles, agree on them and then stick to them e.g.

    1/ Is it or I it not wrong to parade past a house of worship with pageantry, potentially offensive memorabilia and unsuitable music?

    If it IS offensive then tell that to x-number of bands that fall foul of these standards and pressure the OO into banning them from a 12th for a year.

    If it is deemed NOT offensive then they should refrain from objection to nationalist and republican parades e.g. Dungiven or Belfast city centre.

    2/ Is it wrong to have paramilitary murals and flags about the place?

    3/ etc etc you get the idea.

    I hate the hypocrisy.
    (And yes whatabouteriests, I apply this to all political parties, I’m just personally more annoyed when unionists do it as I am unionist, I don’t mind if someone from SF trips over himself/herself or spouts contradictions, in fact I welcome it)