Calls for leadership after Tony Taylor image torched in 11th night 'hate crime'

Elisha McCallion.
Elisha McCallion.

The incineration of an image of Derry republican Tony Taylor atop an 11th night loyalist bonfire in the Waterside on Friday has been condemned as a 'hate crime'.

Sinn Féin MP Elisha McCallion has called on unionist political and community leaders to do more to help eradicate the practice of effigy or image burning, which, she characterised as a form of criminal bigotry.

A poster of Mr. Taylor, a former IRA prisoner released under the Good Friday Agreement who's been in Maghaberry since Theresa Villiers revoked his licence in March 2016, appeared on a bonfire in Nelson Drive, ahead of the Apprentice Boys of Derry 'Relief of Derry' demonstration this afternoon.

"The placing of posters in support of Derry man Tony Taylor, who is currently imprisoned, on a loyalist bonfire in Derry is wrong and should be treated as a hate crime," said Mrs. McCallion.

"No posters or flags should be burned on bonfires in this way.

"I would call on those in positions of leadership in communities to act to bring an end to this activity."

The local MP said the appearance of the posters on the bonfire in the Nelson Drive area has been reported to the PSNI.

Mr. Taylor, whose image was torched, served part of an 18-year jail term after being blown up in a premature explosion in 1994 but was released under the GFA amnesty.

He received a further three year jail term in 2011 for possession of a firearm and was released in 2014.

Last year the former Secretary of State Theresa Villiers revoked Mr. Taylor's licence citing intelligence assessments and he has been in jail ever since.

Campaigners have called for his immediate release in the absence of any charges or evidence having been brought against him.