Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly has walked out of a council meeting ahead of a presentation on bonfires by a delegation including the PSNI.
The presentation on bonfires was delivered by Jim Roddy of City Centre Initiative, PSNI Inspector Jonny Hunter and Fire & Rescue District Commander Mark Deeney in Strabane on Thursday evening.
Addressing the Health and Community Committee, Colr. Donnelly said: “First of all I was involved in the whole bonfire thing and the fact that the PSNI are now here as part of this is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, trying to give the impression they are somehow impartial in the whole bonfire issue. This is not a policing problem.”
Colr. Donnelly also claimed the deputation could “cause a lot of damage” to progress achieved. “As a Republican I am not going to sit here with the PSNI under the pretence they are somehow caring for the community,” he added.
Insp. Hunter said he agreed bonfires are not exclusively a policing problem, but added that some of the criminality associated with them was.
Councillors were told that the cost of policing six July 11 bonfires last year was £11,500, August 15 bonfires £40,000 and an August 7 bonfire in Fountain, £16,000.