Political divisions behind rival August 15 bonfires

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The emergence of rival August 15 bonfires in the Bogside can be mapped onto divisions between Sinn Féin and republicans opposed to the Belfast Agreement, a new report on paramilitarism in the Brandywell and Creggan has claimed.

‘Building Capacity to Support Transition in Brandywell and Creggan’, which was commissioned by The Executive Office, has suggested a programme to promote economic development and investment in the community, as one way of eliminating contentious pyres such as that ignited at Meenan Square last week.

“The August 15 bonfires are a source of contention and can be mapped onto community and political divisions, withthe main alternative bonfire associated with mainstream republicanism and other unapproved bonfires drawing their support from residents (young people in particular) connected to other republican constituencies,” it says. “The bonfire issue and the disputes around it are clearly linked to questions of territoriality and control.

“Efforts at mediation and engagement have shown tentative signs of progress in recent years, however the issue will continue to present a considerable challenge in the context of political instability and deteriorating relationships. It should be noted that the majority of stakeholders associate a transformation of the local environment with increased investment and regeneration, which they suggest would help to instil a greater sense of pride and hope in local communities.”