Bonfire cleanup money “up in smoke” - SDLP MLA
THE cost of cleaning up after bonfires is “astronomical”, according to a local SDLP MLA who called on local councils to challenge what he called the “purveyors of hate” behind bonfire celebrations.
John Dallat, who is an SDLP MLA for East Londonderry requested figures from his party colleague, Environment Minister Alex Attwood on the cost of cleaning up after Twelfth of July bonfires and nationalist bonfires across Northern Ireland.
While figures were not available for all local councils, Mr Dallat has stated that the figures he has been provided with show that the total cost could exceed one million pounds over the past five years.
For the Limavady Borough, the local council spent £1,387 clearing up after bonfires, while in Coleraine the figure was £1,500 exactly.
Figures were not provided for the money being spent by Derry City Council on cleaning up after bonfires.
John Dallat believes the cost cannot be justified. He said: “This is an astronomical cost to ratepayers and one that cannot be justified. However, none of the costs quantify the damage to community relations, the damage to people’s health, particularly children and elderly people and, of course, the harm the countless tyres, tins of paint and other toxic materials are doing to the environment.
“The real cost is horrendous and in many cases the bonfires are getting bigger with less supervision and higher risks to life and limb. The messages of hate emblazoned on some of the more notorious bonfires are starker than ever with little evidence that the Executive’s policy on Cohesion, Sharing and Integration is getting through to those who still want to promote division and difference.
“As the assembly debates draconian measures to cut welfare benefits, close hospitals and nursing homes how on earth can anyone justify the cost massive clear-ups that must be undertaken each year?
“The figures supplied by the 16 councils vary widely and in some cases are clearly estimates. My own belief is that the real cost is much higher in some council areas than admitted and, of course the costs borne by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, the Roads Service and other authorities is not included.
“As a society we need to get real and find a more civilised way of celebrating events. The financial and environmental cost is too great and the opportunities for the purveyors of hate should be challenged more robustly by the councils that are picking up the bills for the mess afterwards.”
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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