Bonfire claims are ‘nonsense’ say locals

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Residents from Ballymacash and Manor Park say that their communities have been misrepresented following recent complaints about Eleventh Night celebrations.

Ballymacash community representative Graham Morris said that any complaints about the bonfire and the celebrations surrounding it should have come directly to him and he would have been only too happy to resolve them.

He said no-one was in danger at any time during the event and marshalls and safety barriers were in place.

He was speaking after last week’s story of a Canadian holiday maker who criticised the Eleventh Night celebrations in the estate.

However, Mr Morris said the bonfire was ‘no Mickey Mouse’ operation.

He said that he spends months setting up the bonfire which is marshalled by up to 20 people who set up barriers and who are responsible for the health and safety of others.

“No-one is ever in any danger,” said Mr Morris. “The fire toppled over but it was nowhere near the crowd. Noone was ever in any danger.

“The fire fell within the barriers. There was no chance that it was ever going to fall on anyone.

“There was no need for anyone to panic. Within five minutes of it falling further barriers were placed to protect the crowd.

“We had 2000 people in Ballymacash that night. People were congratulating for a great night.

“We have holiday makers coming from Switzerland, America, Scotland and Australia who come back year after year to the Bonfire Night.

“There are also people from ethnic minorities and Catholics come who have a good time.

“Everyone who comes to the festivities are made welcome. Elmwood Church even sets up a stall at the celebrations.”

He said that it is a well planned annual event which is loved by everyone and helps boost the local economy.

“This is only night a year,” he said.

He claimed that pensioners from the nearby bungalows allowed them to use their electricity supply,

“If they were not happy they would not have allowed us to use their electricity,” he said.

“Anyone who has grievances will be the same ones who objected to the Ballymacash Loyalist sign going up.”