Bonfire builder addresses safety fears after stunt

Parachutist jumps from bonfire
An "extreme sports athlete" jumps from a bonfire structure in Larne, County Antrim [BBC]

Bonfire builders in Larne have said they applied numerous safety procedures before allowing a parachute jump from their bonfire on Monday night.

A jumper leapt from the top of the Craigyhill bonfire which has been described as the tallest eleventh night bonfire in Northern Ireland.

A video of the jump appeared on social media on Tuesday.

Speaking to BBC News NI, John Stewart, who is one of the main organisers of the bonfire, said the parachutist is "a professional jumper" who "knows what he's doing".

Asked if he considered the stunt dangerous and reckless, Mr Stewart replied: "Everything is dangerous in life, isn't it?"

He added: "This guy has done this for years upon years - he knows the risks he's taking”.

Mr Stewart also stressed that the organisers ensured that all necessary precautions were taken before they agreed to allow the jump to go ahead to raise funds for charity.

He also insisted that they adhered to a range of health and safety measures, including keeping "crowds away".

"We wouldn't have let this guy go up on the fire unless he was harnessed, because we've had to follow these protocols (over) the past three years building these big fires," he said.

"We're not going to let someone else go on it and wreck it for us. We have to make sure we're OK.”

The base jumper, who describes himself as an extreme sports athlete, has told BBC News NI that he approached the organisers about the possibility of jumping.

He also said he only went ahead with the jump when he was “100% satisfied” that it was safe to do so.

A spokesperson for the local council, Mid and East Antrim, said the council was not aware of the jump taking place.

The council also said it does not provide funding for the bonfire but it does cover the clean-up costs for all bonfires after what is known as the 'eleventh night'.

Hundreds of bonfires are lit every year in unionist communities across Northern Ireland on the eve of the Twelfth of July, the main date in the annual parading season.

The Craigyhill bonfire has been the largest in NI in recent years.

In 2022 it reportedly reached about 202ft (62m) in height.

The same year, a man died after being fatally injured when he fell from a different bonfire, located nearby .