Bonfire code for Ballymena area

The towering Ballykeel 1 bonfire. INBT 27-805H
The towering Ballykeel 1 bonfire. INBT 27-805H

Representatives of different unionist and loyalist groups in the Ballymena area have been planning for the annual 11th night bonfires.

The key focus of the groups has been to acknowledge sensitivities, particularly over the burning of tyres and dumping of rubbish.

A spokesman for the groups acknowledged the contrasting attitudes towards the fires amongst the local community.

He said: “We know there are people who love the 11th bonfires and there are others who do not feel that way at all. Our main concern is to make sure that there is a right celebration of our culture, respecting the communities that we are all part of and at the same time facilitating the festival atmosphere towards the 12th itself.

“We would therefore appeal to all involved in the building of bonfires to ensure that rubbish does not get left around and that tyres are not used in the fire itself.”

The areas represented at the bonfire meetings include Harryville, Doury Road, Ahoghill, Broughshane, Ballykeel 1, Ballee and Cullybackey.

The spokesman continued: “It has been good for people to share their experience and broaden understanding of this aspect of the July festivities. Many bonfires will feature children’s parties and will seek to be as inclusive as possible, with safety and respect emphasized for all participants.”

The groups have also met with John F.A. Bond, the Dean of Connor and Rector of St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Broughshane, who has written to the Grand Lodge of Ireland asking them to “issue a statement to ban all tyres and furniture that are known to emit toxic fumes at bonfires on the 11th evening of July as these are seriously injurious to the health and well-being of people”.

In order to better understand the health and environmental risks of burning tyres on bonfires, a controlled demonstration was facilitated by Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and Ballymena Borough Council. Those attending at the Waveney Road Fire Station witnessed the gases released from a single burning tyre, which can have negative impact on the health of the community, especially young children and the elderly.