Mournes Sinn Féin Councillor Willie Clarke has called for the relocation of the Dundrum Decourcey Way, 11th July bonfire.
He has over a number of years observed the bonfire and its aftermaths and has expressed his concerns for the health of local residents and for the environment.
Councillor Clarke said: “I have refrained from speaking up in the past about this issue for a number of years in order to allow discussions to take place to address the problems. However, I have to speak out, given the number of complaints I have received from local residents and the dangers these residents face.
“The bonfire organisers need to listen to the residents and let common sense prevail. They need to discuss the issue with the wider community with a view to moving the bonfire and to take the initiative to put on an alternative event.
“Residents I spoke to had genuine concerns for safety of the nearby houses ahead of the lighting of the bonfire. They were also fearful that fences and sheds could catch fire in neighbouring properties and that guttering, fascias and window frames at some properties could melt or even ignite.”
Councillor Clarke added: “Concerned residents bearing the brunt of the bonfire claim no-one is listening to their concerns. If their properties were damaged who will compensate them?
“If the children’s play ground is destroyed, who will provide the resources to replace it? The majority of Decourcey Way residents say they are frustrated by the lack of direct action by Newry Mourne and Down District Council, the Housing Executive, NI Environment Agency. The PSNI and Down PCSP have discussed the issue of the Dundrum bonfire for years without an agreement to relocate the bonfire.
“We’re all proud of our cultures and our heritage but the bonfire location, is unsafe. No one is against them having a bonfire, but it has to be in an area that is safe. Is someone going to have to lose their life before something is done?
“All sections of our society have the right to celebrate and commemorate their cultural traditions, but this has to be done in a respectful way and without giving offence to other citizens or sections of society.
“It is unacceptable that Sinn Féin posters and a Down GAA flag were displayed on the Dundrum bonfire. This was despite assurances from bonfire builders that no such materials would be placed on the bonfire. Local Unionist leaders, Orange Order and bonfire builders need to resolve this issue and find a suitable location for the bonfire in 2018.”