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Calls for 'mandatory' bonfire regulations in the North after teenager critically injured

The teenager is being treated for his injuries in hospital.

File image: An 11th Night bonfire burns in Belfast.
File image: An 11th Night bonfire burns in Belfast.
Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire/PA Images

THE LEADER OF the UUP has called for mandatory bonfire regulations after a teenager was critically injured at a 11 July bonfire in north Belfast.

Speaking to the BBC Doug Beattie said: “Some of these bonfires are not safe and if they are not safe there needs to be mandatory regulations to stop them putting people’s lives in danger.”

“This young man with 40 per cent burns over his body now has life-changing injuries. Everybody has to look at this and ask themselves – is this worth it?”

The 17-year-old suffered burns to his face and body at an Eleventh Night bonfire in Silverstream Crescent, north Belfast, on Sunday night.   

The young man is being treated for his injuries in hospital, with police appealing for witnesses to come forward. 

The UUP leader went on to call for a police investigation as well as a health and safety investigation into the event.

“We need to learn from this. That goes without saying.”

He added: “Loyalists should not hang their heads in shame because not all loyalists are responsible for this, we can’t group all loyalists together”.

Beattie stated that he had spent three years working on the Flags, Identities, Cultures and Traditions (FICT) commission discussing issues relating to bonfire safety. 

The commission submitted their recommendations to the Executive Office at Stormont over a year ago but they have not been brought to the assembly for debate.

“My party has asked for the FICT commission paper to be brought forward as have various other parties,” Beattie said.

“It (the Executive Office) is a joint office of Sinn Féin and the DUP, who have not brought forward this paper which has clear recommendations in it in regard to bonfires.”

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“Had they brought that forward we may well have been able to address this.”

Beattie went on to note that the FICT commission makes clear recommendations and contains a “set of things we can do to make them [bonfires] safe”.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Our enquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident. We are aware that there were a number of people in the area at the time of the incident, so we would appeal to them to come forward to assist with our enquiries.

“We are also aware of social media footage that has been posted online in relation to this incident. We would ask that it is not shared, but to contact police with any information they might have.”

- This article contains additional reporting from PA.

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