Northern Ireland

Concerns growing after sectarian clashes close to north Belfast bonfire site

Pyre being built near notorious interface

Pallets gathered for a bonfire on Edlingham Street near the Duncairn interface in North Belfast. NO BYLINE
Bonfire material at Edlingham Street near the Duncairn interface in North Belfast

Concerns are growing about a loyalist bonfire site at a notorious interface in north Belfast after sectarian clashes involving young children in the area.

Bonfire material has appeared in the Edlingham Street area, which is off Duncairn Gardens, over recent days.

The pyre site is a short distance from Adam Street, in the loyalist Tigers Bay area, which was the scene of another controversial pyre at the centre of sectarian tensions over recent years.

While agreement is understood to have been reached over the Adam Street site, police have confirmed they were called to the area three times this week to deal with “anti-social” behaviour understood to be linked to the Edlingham Street site.

The Irish News understands simmering sectarian tensions resulted in clashes involving young children this week.

It is believed that property on the nationalist side of the interface has been targeted with damage being caused.

Unlike the former Adam Street bonfire site, nearby Edlingham Street is not fenced off meaning gangs of young people can move freely across the interface.

Police say that at around 10.50pm last Sunday a number people threw stones at police vehicles and that a 13-year-old boy was later arrested for riotous behaviour.

He was later returned to his home address and a report will now be forwarded to the Public Prosecution Service.

On Tuesday police received a report that a crowd had gathered in the Tigers Bay area at around 6.45pm.

Police say they spoke with a group of youths who claimed bricks had been thrown at them.

A PSNI spokeswoman said nothing was ongoing at the time and no injuries were reported.

A report of anti-social behaviour was also received at around 3.10pm on Wednesday.

Police say that on arrival no offences were detected and a number of youths were spoken to.

A spokesman for the PSNI said they are aware “of the negative impact that this type of activity can have on the local community and would appeal to anyone affected to report anti-social activity immediately to ensure a prompt response”.

They also asked parents and guardians to speak to young people and know where they are “to prevent them from engaging in behaviour which could result in injury or a criminal record”.

A spokesman added that patrols in the area will be increased to “deter further activity of this nature”.

Sinn Féin Councillor JJ Magee said “the accumulation of bonfire materials near an interface is unacceptable and concerning”.

“Already residents are experiencing anti-social behaviour on the Duncairn Gardens and property has been damaged,” he added.

Mr Magee said the pyre site is located close to local businesses” and is a “concern for workers coming into the area”.

“We are seeking a speedy resolution to this problem and the removal of the materials that have been placed at this site,” he added.

“People are fully entitled to live free from intimidation and nobody wants further damage done to community relations.”