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Council working group reiterate collaborative approach to bonfire issue

20 December 2018

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Bonfire Working Group have outlined their commitment to working collaboratively towards addressing the issues around bonfires.

In a joint statement issued on behalf of the cross party elected member working group that consists of Cllrs Brian Tierney, Paul Gallagher, Kevin Campbell and Aldermen David Ramsey and Derek Hussey, the members said they remain committed to implementing the Council’s new bonfire policy which was unanimously agreed by Council in 2017.

The elected member working group. with assistance from the SEUPB Peace IV Community Engagement programme, have met and engaged with a wide range of people from across the community across the City and District, with a view to engaging with all interested parties on this important issue.

In a joint statement the members said:  “As Councillors coming from different backgrounds representing all political parties and groups on the Council, we want this City and District to show respect for cultural traditions, respect for the law, and respect for each other. We recognise that bonfires can be expressions of culture and tradition. Some want bonfires but others do not, while yet others wish to explore alternatives.  Where there are bonfires they do need to be safe, clean and respectful to people of all backgrounds who live near and around them.

“There should be no tyres or other toxic material on any bonfire, and they should respect the health and well-being of all people.  Burning tyres on bonfires even for one day can damage the health of people especially those most vulnerable like our older people, young people and children, and people with respiratory problems.

“Similarly, we recognise that burning flags, emblems or any material that knowingly causes offence to others cannot be justified. This only damages community relations and impedes the already difficult process of peace building and reconciliation.

“Changing the narrative around bonfires is a challenge. We are, together, prepared for the hard work that will be required to make progress in the months and years ahead for the good of all in the City and District.

“We have a City and District rich in history and culture; a place that we are proud to be from. We are all proud of its achievements in times past and in more recent decades. We want to show everyone again that this City and District is leading the way in building a respectful, cohesive and mature place where all traditions and cultures belong side by side; where together we are greater than our parts.”