Dungannon police allay legal fears over bonfires

Bonfire tyres
Bonfire tyres

Bonfire fears have prompted Dungannon police to issue warnings during the July 12 celebrations.

Local police say they have been inundated with callers concerned about possible prosecutions relating to the lighting of bonfires in the Mid Ulster District.

“We’re being asked lots of questions about bonfires. While bonfires themselves are not illegal, disposing and burning waste tyres on a bonfire is an illegal activity”, said a police spokesperson.

“Bonfires can be a source of considerable annoyance and are potentially a dangerous source of pollution.”

Police have advised local people never to burn old tyres, tar or scrap rubber on a bonfire, and to avoid using foam-filled furniture, aerosols, gas cylinders and paint.

“Uncontrolled burning of these substances can affect air and water quality and harm the environment”, added the spokesperson.

“Always make sure the bonfire is located away from houses, buildings and overhead cables. Keep the bonfire to a manageable size - the bigger the fire, the bigger the risk.”

The advice comes after Mid Ulster Council warned that people who dump hazardous material at bonfire sites this year will face prosecution.

Councillors had vowed to tackle the illegal burning of tyres at bonfires, which creates toxic plumes of smoke, but have widened the prohibition to include rubbish, flags, election posters and effigies of individuals.

The council also called on statutory agencies, landowners, the PSNI and the Fire Service to work with it in outlawing the burning of hazardous waste at bonfires. It warned that organisers should remove offensive material from bonfires. “I call on community organisations to stop the burning of tyres, and I ask the police and fire service to take a lead role in preventing this happening”, said SDLP Councillor Christine Flynn.