Editorial - still a burning issue to be tackled

Like Christmas, it seems to get earlier each year.

We are not even out of June and already the thorny issue of bonfires has raised its ugly head.

In loyalist areas across the North preparations are well underway for these annual orgies of destruction.

It may happen every year but it is hard to call it a tradition.

These sectarian pyres raise temperatures in what could already be a difficult marching season in a number of areas.

Thankfully in nationalist areas of Derry the so-called ‘traditional’ bonfires of the summer have been largely abandoned in favour of more positive, inclusive community festivals.

Much like the Derry model of dealing with contentious parades, other areas around the North would do well to learn the lessons from ten years of largely peaceful marches in the city when it comes to bonfires.

However, it is difficult for people to learn when they don’t want to be taught.

Until those in positions of leadership in loyalist areas - including areas of Derry - take the first step and realise there is something wrong with celebrating culture in a way that destroys their own communities and, more importantly, work to put constructive alternatives in place, we are likely to be left with these unsightly eyesores in estates across the North for some time to come.

Moving away from bonfires could help reduce the annual summer speculation over an increase in community tensions.

It would further serve to expose those who seek to stoke and exploit such fears in order to further their own narrow viewpoints.

It is not an easy task, but the experience in many areas of Derry has shown that it is possible if the community will exists.