Sinn Féin councillor Chris O’Leary criticised City Hall for sending ‘contradictory’ messages by hosting its own ‘family-fun’ bonfires while clamping down on illegal fires.
Tonight is St John’s Eve, a night marked by bonfires throughout Cork city. The tradition is also practised in Spain and Scandinavia but in few other places in Ireland.
The night has become a magnet for anti-social behaviour in recent times and is typically the busiest night of the year for fire services.
In a bid to ease this pressure, City Hall organises its own family-friendly fire events in city parks, but Mr O’Leary said the practice should end.
“How can we tell people not to go out and burn materials when that is exactly what we do?” he said. “It is a contradiction. You can’t just openly light fires in public areas.”
The Sinn Féin councillor said 2009 Waste Management Regulations prohibit the lighting of fires in public spaces, while the Stockholm Convention, which the Irish government has signed up to, restricts the release of ‘persistent organic pollutants’, including those found in wooden pallets and timber.
“Some are outdated and what was acceptable before is not anymore. We are in the midst of a major climate challenge. We have signed up to make changes to fight this and what is happening at these bonfires entirely contradicts this. We need to mark this celebration in a non-fire manner; we can’t just turn a blind eye to some laws and not others.”