High court orders Belfast bonfire to be reduced in size but locals set it ablaze anyway
“It is disappointing that some people decided to resort to violence as attempts were made to reduce a significant threat to the life and property of local people."
A bonfire in Belfast was set alight just hours after a high court order ruled that its height should be reduced for safety purposes.
Firefighters were called to the scene at Bloomfield Walkway in the early hours of Wednesday morning where they were joined by around 200 police officers in riot gear.
Missiles were thrown as police moved in to secure the site, while a number of vehicles were set on fire in the city.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable criticised the "total disregard for the safety of the local community" after the scenes unfolded.
“It is disappointing that some people decided to resort to violence as attempts were made to reduce a significant threat to the life and property of local people, due to the size and location of this bonfire," said Todd in an official PSNI statement.
“Over recent months there has been a concerted effort by a wide range of agencies and community representatives to resolve this completely avoidable situation.
"I would like to thank those people for their efforts in trying to bring about a resolution to this matter. We all hoped that the bonfire builders would see sense. Regrettably this hasn’t proved to be the case."
Todd notes that the PSNI will continue to liaise with partner agencies, local communities and political representatives in a bid to address ongoing concerns linked to bonfires.
"While PSNI is not the lead agency on bonfires and have limited legislative power in respect of bonfires or waste which has been illegally disposed at sites, we will continue to support other statutory bodies to carry out their roles if requested," he added.