All round pressure is building for a top level investigation into the causes of the Mourne’s fire which destroyed hectares of land around Slieve Donard mountain.
Sinn Féin South Down MP Chris Hazzard has said there must be a “full and rigorous investigation” into the causes and consequences of the wildfire that destroyed swathes of the Mournes at the weekend.
The South Down MP was commenting following confirmation from the Fire & Rescue Service on Monday that they believe the fire was started deliberately
Chris Hazzard said: “The Mourne’s fire covered nearly four square kilometres/ It required more than 100 firefighters; Coastguard air support; and an extensive multi-agency, community response.
“Significantly however, it also devastated wildlife habitat, poisoned our water and air, and released damaging greenhouse gases.
“While nobody will be surprised that the fire was deliberate, the fact that somebody would act in such a reckless and careless manner is sickening.
“Fundamentally a cultural shift is required on the burning of land for agricultural purposes.
“Not only is the current prescribed period of burning far too late in the year (mid April) but we need to urgently reassess the environmental impact of burning – especially in peatland areas which play a vital role in the storage of carbon.
“So the Environment Minister must look urgently at the issue of the burning of peatlands and look to promote unprecedented rewilding and ‘high nature value’ schemes to benefit farmers and landowners.
“Governments north and south can no longer turn a blind eye to ecocidal practices. If this weekend is not a watershed moment in the battle to protect our most precious habitats then we should hang our heads in shame.
“The arsonists who were skulking about in the early hours of Friday morning should be dealt with in the same manner in which we would deal with somebody setting fire to buildings in the middle of the night.”
Police Start Investigation Into Mourne’s Fire.
Detectives investigating a major gorse fire in the Mourne Mountains over the weekend are appealing for information.
Detective Inspector Handley said: “A multi-agency operation was involved in bringing the huge fire under control, which the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) declared a major incident.
“While the cause of the fire is under investigation, NIFRS believe the blaze may have been started deliberately, and we are now working to establish the circumstances.
“It is believed the fire may have started off the main walkway along the Bloody Bridge path, possibly late on Thursday night (22nd April).
“We want to hear from anyone who was in the area, and who may have information which could help our investigation, to get in touch with us.
“In particular, we want to hear from the owner/occupants of a black/dark coloured saloon-type car that is understood to have been present in the Bloody Bridge car park when NIFRS arrived just after 1am on Friday morning as they may have vital information which could assist us.
“The number to call is 101, and quote reference 491 of 23/04/21.”
You can also submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via:
Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.