Mourne’s DEA Councillor Willie Clarke speaks out on devastation of the Mourne’s fire.
Mourne’s area Sinn Féin Councillor Willie Clarke speaking following the wildfire emergency in the Mourne’s, said: “I would like to praise firefighters and all blue light services for the efforts to bring the Slieve Donard fire under control, speaking to crews on the ground they were overwhelmed by the support from the local community and businesses.
“I witnessed the devastation of the wildfire, a site that is a protected habitat, that is renowned around the world, and as an area councillor I have campaigned for additional resources to be provided to manage the Mourne Mountains and Donard Wood, particularly as residents and visitors want to get into the great outdoors more.
“The emergency services, particularly local fire crews, should be commended in the professionalism they displayed when dealing with these incidents. However, malicious fires place a massive strain on very limited resources and as we approach the summer, and I would urge people to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the PSNI.
“The damage caused by gorse fires has a lasting impact and areas of outstanding natural beauty can take years to recover. There needs to be a co-ordinated response from DAERA, NI Water, Health and Public Safety and the Department of Justice.
“And we need to see a collective response with a sharing of resources, there needs to be additional funding provided to build upon the best practice Mourne Heritage Trust has undertaken to reduce the impact of these fires in the High Mournes.
“Measures should include the establishment of fire breaks, to reduce the fuel load of the dry vegetation. This tragedy could be a blessing in disguise. If it produces a cross-departmental strategic response into ensuring that the scale of these fires never happens again.
“The PSNI need to be proactively investigating these environmental crimes, and those responsible need to be assured that these type of crimes will not be tolerated in our society, added Cllr Willie Clarke.