Foyle MLA condemns ‘naked sectarianism’ at bonfires

The 11th Night bonfire at Edgarstown, covered in at least 30 Sinn Fein and SDLP election posters. This follows a complaint to police about another bonfire in Portadown's Corcrain Estate at the weekend as a hate crime by Sinn Fein.

The 11th Night bonfire at Edgarstown, covered in at least 30 Sinn Fein and SDLP election posters. This follows a complaint to police about another bonfire in Portadown's Corcrain Estate at the weekend as a hate crime by Sinn Fein.

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Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney has said the Orange Order and unionist politicians must address the burning of flags and election posters on bonfires.

Mr McCartney was speaking after Irish Tricolours and other flags, emblems and election posters of nationalist and Republican elected representatives were set alight after being fixed to bonfires in Derry and elsewhere during the Eleventh Night ritual.

Mr McCartney said: “There has been silence from the Orange Order and unionist parties on hate crimes that have taken place at these eleventh night bonfires.

“These are clearly hate crimes and are being treated as such by the PSNI.

Some claim that bonfires are an important part of culture and should be welcoming to families but how can these displays of naked sectarianism be welcoming to anyone?

“It is clear that many in the Orange Order and many unionist politicians are witnessing these hate crimes and those involved. They are clearly turning a blind eye to these crimes and not reporting them.

“It is deeply worrying that promoting hatred towards anything Irish, Nationalist or Catholic through these displays is not taken seriously by unionist parties.

“We all have a collective responsibility to stamp out hatred and sectarianism in our society.”

Meanwhile, speaking about the issues of emblems on bonfires, local PSNI Superintendent Mark McEwan said: “When police receive a complaint about offensive or distasteful material being placed on bonfires, enquiries will be carried out to determine if a crime has been committed.

“If enquiries determine that this is the case a police investigation will follow.

“We take hate crime very seriously and actively investigate all incidents reported to us.

“Hate crime is wrong on all levels and the PSNI will do everything it can to ensure that everyone, from whatever background, can live free from prejudice, fear and discrimination.”