Lisburn Councillor calls for burning at illegal bonfire site in to stop immediately

A Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor has called on people to stop setting fires at a Co Antrim reservoir.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 9:13 pm
Updated Friday, 18th June 2021, 9:14 pm
Sinn Fein councillor Gary McCleave said that the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) have been called to the Stoneyford bonfire site “a number of times” in the last week.
Sinn Fein councillor Gary McCleave said that the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) have been called to the Stoneyford bonfire site “a number of times” in the last week.

Sinn Fein councillor Gary McCleave said that the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) have been called to the Stoneyford bonfire site “a number of times” in the last week.

The fire service said they believe the latest blaze was due to a “deliberate ignition”.

It is understood that the site, which is owned by NI Water, is near Stoneyford Reservoir.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr McCleave said the emergency services were “stretched as it is” and said the “constant burning” in the area was causing intimidation.

He said: “The overwhelming majority of people in Stoneyford don’t want this, it’s a minority.

“This is an area that is used by the entire community for walking, fishing and to get outdoors in what has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone during the pandemic and this is just intimidating people away from the site.

“It’s an eyesore for residents because the rubbish and other materials are blowing all over the road and now the onus is on NI Water to get the site cleared.

“At this bonfire site you also have sectarian graffiti that says ‘Loyalist Stoneyford’. It’s not a loyalist area, it’s a mixed area and the overwhelming number of people here don’t want it.

“The village was given funding for a bonfire beacon a number of years ago but while that is being used there’s also a burning on NI Water’s property. It needs to stop and these people need to listen to the community.”

Northern Ireland Water urged residents to “treat the area with respect”, saying that they would be prepared to meet with the community to find a resolution.

In a statement, a spokesperson for NI Water said: “NI Water is proud to host visitors to our beauty spots but is appealing for support in keeping these sites a place for all to enjoy by treating them with respect.

“NI Water is aware of historic issues with fires being lit on or near the Stoneyford Reservoir site. While this will not impact on customer water supply as the reservoir is not in service, it is home to a variety of wildlife who depend on the natural habitat for survival.

“NI Water has engaged with local representatives in the past and is willing to do so going forward to assist with a resolution to this issue.”