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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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Three houses set ablaze in Belfast after bonfire burns out of control

Today marks the anniversary of the victory of Dutch Prince William of Orange over the Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

THREE HOUSES WERE set ablaze in Belfast last night after a bonfire to mark the 12th of July burned out of control.

The PSNI confirmed to TheJournal.ie that three houses had to be evacuated in north Belfast, after a large bonfire got out of control. 

The Red Cross also attended the blaze, and helped to accommodate the family.

Alan Walmsley, assistant chief fire officer with Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue said they had to deal with a number of large bonfires across the North.

“It was quite a busy night, the fire services said there were quite a number of significant bonfires right across the province,” he told Morning Ireland on RTE.

Unfortunately in one incident in north Belfast, by the time we received the call there was already a roof alight on a row of terraced properties.

“We were there very very quickly, and fought the fire extremely hard to try and mitigate any significant damage, but unfortunately three properties were significantly damaged due to that fire.

Twelfth of July celebrations - Belfast A bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

“Thankfully everybody was out of that property at the time, but we were able to work with other emergency services and Belfast city council to put arrangements in place to open up a reception centre.

“We worked with British Red Cross to bring in facilities to help the family.”

Attacks

He said that no crews were attacked by people attending the bonfires last night, in contrast to previous years.

He said they unfortunately have no statutory powers to enforce the size or regulation of the bonfires, but that intensive community engagement has reaped benefits.

“This year, even though it was a busy night, we had a significant number of bonfire events, but there were no attacks on any of our crews, no attacks on any of our appliances.”

The PSNI confirmed to TheJournal.ie that they were present at the incident, but that no crime had been committed.

orange File photo Source: Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Today is the 12th of July, where parades will take place across Northern Ireland to mark the anniversary of King William III’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

The Orange Order has organised 18 demonstrations.

The flagship parades will take place in Portadown and Kilkeel, with other demonstrations happening in Belfast, Maguiresbridge, Limavady, Castledawson, Coagh, Newtownstewart, Aughnacloy, Donaghadee, Comber, Dromore, Randalstown, Lisburn, Ballymena, Glenarm, Ahoghill and Ballycastle.

A parade was held in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal on Saturday.

Almost 5,000 members and 80 bands are expected to take part in the parade in Portadown, Co Armagh, while 1,000 members are due to march in Kilkeel, Co Down.

Edward Stevenson of the Orange Order said the day “offers a unique opportunity for the Orange Institution and the bands community to showcase our culture and heritage”, and will bring tourists to the areas involved.

Increased police presence is expected in a bid to keep the peace.

Bonfires 

Bonfires were lit in various locations in recent days, with Sinn Féin posters and tricolours among the items set on fire.

Three houses set ablaze in Belfast after bonfire burns out of control
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  • Bonfires

    A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in Lower Shankill, Belfast.Source: Brian Lawless / PA Wire/Press Association Images
  • Bonfires

    A bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn. Source: Brian Lawless / PA Wire/Press Association Images
  • Bonfires

    A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast. Source: Brian Lawless / PA Wire/Press Association Images
  • Bonfires

    Men stand on a bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn.Source: Brian Lawless / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd said such incidents are unacceptable and should be investigated by the police as a hate crime.

He was speaking after election posters belonging to himself and party colleague Catherine Seeley were burned on bonfires in Portadown.

“It is totally unacceptable that these stolen posters appeared on the bonfire, especially in the context of an event which was supposed to be a children’s fun day. What message does the burning of images of elected representatives send out to children?”

O’Dowd said the incident has been reported to the PSNI as “theft and a hate crime”.

In previous years, effigies of Sinn Féin politicians including Gerry Adams have been burned in the bonfires.

With reporting from Darragh Peter Murphy.

Read: Mary Lou: Burning Sinn Féin effigies is ‘race hatred’

Read: Teen girl injured after car ploughs into pedestrians in Ardoyne

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Órla Ryan

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