Bonfire fencing concern

Johnny Mercer, Glenn Robinson and Aaron Downey keeping an eye on the bonfire construction at Pollock Drive. INLM2415-407
Johnny Mercer, Glenn Robinson and Aaron Downey keeping an eye on the bonfire construction at Pollock Drive. INLM2415-407

Five years of grassroots work to ‘reinvent’ the Mourneview bonfire could have gone up in smoke because the new supercouncil couldn’t do what its predecessor did.

Community representatives in Mourneview are confused and angry after they were told the fencing which Craigavon Council had provided over the past four or five years was not available through its much larger counterpart.

It’s a move which has shocked those who have been working with the youths building the bonfire and, they say, could have lead to chaos.

Indeed only for the intervention of the Housing Executive, who have stepped in to provide fencing, that chaos could have reigned.

Aaron Dowey of the local branch of the PUP said they had conducted a survey on the bonfire which had been highly positive and they had approached the bonfire organisers to see how things could be brought forward.

Glenn Robinson of Action for Community Transformations (ACT) said: “We met with the young guys and they have been very receptive, we told them the issues over noise, alcohol and rubbish and to be fair they have been very good about it.

“The problem with the fencing has left them deflated, they are feeling what is the point and we don’t want to lose their ear.”

Johnny Mercer of the Mourneview and Grey Estates Community Association said the organisers could go off and ‘do their own thing’ which could result in four bonfires in various areas of the estate rather than just the one which has been the norm for a number of years.

It was pointed out this could have a knock-on effect for police, fire service, council and local residents.

Glenn also pointed out: “The young fellas respect the people living around the site.

“We’ve been speaking to them and they say if fencing is not provided it will be virtually impossible to maintain a clean site.”

However, the knock-on effects had fencing not been provided are all too clear as it would have had health and safety consequences and without fencing rubbish could spread beyond the site boundaries.

It was pointed out a lot of good work had been done at building bridges between the youths and police, loss of the fencing on the site could see police being called to deal with issues which might not have arisen otherwise and conflicts could undo all of that work.

The actions of the Housing Executive have been welcomed by the three groups but they are now concerned for next year and are still seeking answers from the council on why they could not provide the fencing for this year’s event.