Burning of Unionist symbols condemned by politicians in Northern IReland

Burning of Unionist symbols condemned by politicians in Northern IReland

LEADER OF the Democratic Unionist Party Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has condemned the hanging of flags, poppy wreaths and and posters on a nationalist bonfire in Derry.

The bonfire was erected to mark the Catholic Feast of the Assumption, and featured images of Britain's Queen Elizabeth and a PSNI Land Rover among others before it was set alight.

Donaldson tweeted to say the bonfire was an "outrageous and offensive display of hate."

"It should be universally rejected. When this generation is told there was no alternative to violence, this is the result. Time Michelle O'Neill gave leadership & opposed this hatred.

"There was always an alternative to killing people."

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly, who is the party's policing spokesperson, has branded the scenes as "disgraceful" and said displays of hate must end.

“Scenes from bonfires in Derry tonight are absolutely disgraceful and wrong," he said.

“The burning of flags, wreaths and posters which include politicians and other political figures is deeply offensive and is a hate crime.

“There is no place for these displays of hate anywhere in our society. It must stop now.

“It’s in stark contrast to the many excellent community festivals that are taking place across the city; celebrating art, culture, the future and everything that is good about Derry and the people who live in it.”

Leader of the SDLP Colum Eastwood questioned why nationalists "need to mimic the worst elements of loyalist culture."

"If you think the route to a United Ireland is burning your neighbour's cultural symbols we're not on the same side," he said in a tweet.

"If you actually want to achieve something get your head in gear and learn that we have to share this place. There is no other way."

The burning of the bonfire and symbols comes after a series of incidents over the weekend which drew condemnation in Northern Ireland.

On Sunday evening, a Larne FC player was pictured wearing a t-shirt with a pro-IRA message at a Wolfe Tones concert, which prompted the club to suspend him with immediate effect while an investigation is ongoing.

Parachute Regiment flags and UVF flags were also sold at a loyalist parade in Derry on Saturday.

Some of the families of those killed during Bloody Sunday in 1972, when the Parachute Regiment opened fire on civilians during a civil rights parade, said they felt personally insulted.

A mural depicting a PSNI Land Rover in flames was also unveiled in West Belfast by Irish rap duo KNEECAP - an image which has also appeared on the group's merchandise.

Alliance leader and Northern Ireland's justice minister Naomi Long is among those who have addressed the controversy online, tweeting:

"Loathe to give the band more publicity, but as a community we need to start asking ourselves what messages we're sending out about the kind of future we want. Normalising/excusing violence, seeking to cause hurt/offence, isn't how to build a better future for us all."