THE JUSTICE Minister of Northern Ireland has said she has reported effigies of her and other politicians hanging from loyalist bonfires to the PSNI.
Alliance Party Leader Naomi Long tweeted yesterday to say that she had received photos of effigies of herself, Michelle O'Neill and Mary Lou McDonald hanging on a bonfire at Glenfield in Carrickfergus.
"So, having become accustomed to seeing my posters burned on bonfires, I honestly thought nothing could shock me anymore," she said.
"I'm not sharing the images due to risk of distressing families who have lost loved ones by suicide. And because they are utterly sick. I will, however, be sharing them and the pictures of the bonfire builders standing proudly in front of their creation with with the police."
She said the effigies were not "last minute additions."
"There are photos of a children's 'fun day' taking place at this fire while our effigies were hanging on it. Some local businesses even sponsored it," she continued.
"What kind of parent would see that and think it's acceptable for their child to see?"
She said she felt physically sick at the photos - "not just at the effigies but at the festering hatred and sectarianism they represent; hatred that not only persists in our community but is being passed on to the next generation as normal."
"This has to stop. Our children deserve better," she finished.
I felt physically sick at those photos - not just at the effigies but at the festering hatred and sectarianism they represent; hatred that not only persists in our community but is being passed on to the next generation as normal.
This has to stop.
Our children deserve better.
— Naomi Long MLA (@naomi_long) July 13, 2022
In an apparent reference to the incident, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald shared a quote from Nelson Mandela on Twitter.
"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion," it reads.
"People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) July 13, 2022
Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party condemned the effigies.
"Utterly vile," he tweeted. "Hanging effigies on bonfires does not represent the union and unionist culture I believe in. Staying silent cannot be an option."
Several bonfires across the North of Ireland over the passed few days have had nationalist politician's election posters hanging from them, including Sinn Féin's Gary McCleave.
"Tonight I am having to answer questions from my children who came across this on social media why their Daddy in on a bonfire to be burnt," he said as he shared an image online.
"This is not culture, it is a hate crime. Those within political unionism need to show leadership & stand up against this sectarian hatred."
Tonight I am having to answer questions from my children who came across this on social media why their Daddy is on a bonfire to be burnt.
This is not culture, it is a hate crime. Those within political unionism need to show leadership & stand up against this sectarian hatred pic.twitter.com/SmYsgu0Wpr
— Cllr Gary McCleave (@Garymc1967) July 11, 2022
At another bonfire, several Irish flags were hung in the wrong direction, making it the Ivory Coast flag.
Leave the Ivory Coast out of this pic.twitter.com/wwltr4X80N
— Ronan Mullen (@RonanReigns) July 12, 2022