Towards a Respectful Future: A report on bonfires and related activities (PDF 307KB)
Publish Date: 16 March 2018
A joint report on bonfires and related activities by the Democratic Unionist, Ulster Unionist and Progressive Unionist Party Groups on Belfast City Council.
Following concerns arising from bonfire related matters in Belfast City Council in 2017, a decision was taken by the DUP, UUP and PUP to engage with the broader unionist community in order to develop a common understanding and approach to this traditional celebration. A wide variety of groups and individuals have contributed offering helpful perspectives and ideas and while we remain open to further contributions we are confident we have captured the mood of the unionist community in relation to this issue.
- Vast majority of bonfires are well managed and organised. These include events part of and separate from the BCC bonfire and cultural expression programme
- Vast majority of bonfires across Belfast are not contentious and attract wide support from the community.
- A small number have raised concerns, primarily in respect to health and safety concerns, anti-social behavious and sectarian or racist graffiti.
- Many participants believe there is a concerted campaign against traditional Unionist celebrations, including bonfires. This feeds into a sense of alienation.
- There is a feeling among some that the ethos of encouraging young people to go 'collecting for the bonfire' is being lost as bigger fires come to dominate the lanscape, often built using heavy machinery.
- While significant efforts have been made to tackle the scourge of fly tipping and tyres it remains a problem and effectively undermines the bonfire tradition in the eyes of many.
- The playing of dance music is not attractive to many in the Unionist community, who feel it takes away from the cultural expression. However a sigificant number approve as they feel it feeds into the atmosphere on the night.
- Views differed on the presence of alcohol. While many believed ti was acceptable among adults, there were serious concerns about under-age drinking. There was also a feeling among some in the community that many would find alcohol free evens more attractive.