MEMBERS of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Health and Community Committee have given their backing to a new bonfire policy that takes a cohesive approach to tackling bonfires involving a wide range of statutory and community partners.
The policy, which aims to provide a framework for minimising the impact of bonfires on Council land, was unanimously supported by elected members at the meeting and is subject to ratification from Full Council later this month.
As part of the process a full consultation process involving local agencies, groups and the general public was carried out to gauge the response to the new policy to ensure everyone has the opportunity to feed into the proposed action plan.
Welcoming the endorsement of the report, the Chairman of the Health and Communities Committee Cllr Ruairi McHugh said the decision to support the policy was testament to the positive engagement and hard work of officers and elected members to deal with this important issue.
“The Committee’s endorsement of this Plan sends a strong message that Council is committed to the development of an effective resolution to this issue, acknowledging the significance of bonfires in terms of community’s cultural identity and dealing proactively with public safety and the protection of the environment.
“This inclusive and collaborative approach will promote communication between the many statutory agencies and community representatives who deal with the issue on the ground, and how we can enhance community relations and benefit local people by working in close partnership,” he said.
The Director of Health and Communities with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Karen McFarland told members at the meeting that the policy would offer definitive guidance on the issues surrounding bonfires on Council lands.
She said the Council will continue to work on a multi-agency basis to bring together all agencies to continue with the positive work being done by Council.
She added that to implement the proposed strategy, a multi-departmental working group will continue to work collectively to identify the impact of bonfires across Derry and Strabane and review policy on an annual basis.
The group will also engage with those who participate in bonfires to provide guidance and direction, as well as participate in educational interventions to highlight the social and environmental impact of bonfires.