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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 July 2006, 05:54 GMT 06:54 UK
Beacons 'could replace bonfires'
Burning bonfire
Belfast City Council has given 90,000 to the project
A plan to change the image of 'eleventh night' bonfires in Belfast could see them being replaced by beacons.

Community groups have been liaising with the city council, and loyalist paramilitaries have lent their support to the plan in certain areas.

Bonfire sites in Woodvale and Donegall Pass have been part of a pilot project which aims to make the bonfire more environmentally-friendly.

Belfast City Council has given 90,000 to fund the project.

Perhaps the most radical move is the aim of replacing the traditional bonfire with beacons by next year.

Catherine McCartney of Woodvale Community Centre said: "We feel that the beacons are more safe and environmentally-friendly.

"The people, young and old in the area, feel that the beacons are a far better idea."

'Influence in the community'

Mervyn Elder, director of community and recreation, said it was money well spent.

He said he has no qualms about talking with loyalist paramilitaries in order to make it a success.

"If we can make a difference in the community, speaking to people who have an influence in the community then that is what I have to do," he said.

"It would be silly to do otherwise."

The SDLP on Belfast City Council said it had strong reservations about the pilot project.

Leader of the SDLP grouping, Alban Maginness, said: "In reality, throughout Belfast, you still have got very large bonfires which contain a very great amount of potential pollutants."

He added: "For every bonfire that is now controlled... there are several other bonfires that are completely unregulated and completely out of control."

Mr Maginness said his party would be monitoring the bonfires and the pilot projects.

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