‘We need to move beyond this’ - DUP MLA whose poster was placed on Bogside bonfire

DUP MLA Gary Middelton's poster was among those placed on the bonfire last night.
DUP MLA Gary Middelton's poster was among those placed on the bonfire last night.

A DUP Assemblyman has said he hopes people can move beyond the burning of flags and election material after his own poster was torched in the Bogside bonfire last night.

Foyle MLA Gary Middleton was one of a number of cross-party politicians whose images were destroyed in the blaze.

Foyle MLA Gary Middleton. INLS1215-104KM

Foyle MLA Gary Middleton. INLS1215-104KM

A number of flags associated with unionism, a poppy wreath and an effigy of a PSNI vehicle were among the object placed on the bonfire before it was set alight at around 11.15pm last night.

Mr Middleton said he was with two colleagues on the City Walls from midnight last night and witnessed one youth running up and firing a petrol bomb at the Walls.

“There were people there to watch the bonfire, including tourists, but after that police evacuated the area for safety reasons.”

Speaking about the burning of emblems he said: “We need to move beyond this. We have to get away from a place where election posters and flags are burned on bonfires and move towards bonfires being done in a safe manner. Unfortunately we are not at that stage yet and we need to continue that work.”

Mr Middleton added: “The priority isn’t really my poster but it is about making sure no-one is injured or hurt. This does seem to have passed off with nobody hurt, although it was deeply wrong the bonfire was placed where it was, and all that has done is upset the local community.

“Efforts now need to be redoubled to ensure this particular bonfire is made safe and done in a way that is respectful of that community, the majority of whom have made it clear they don’t want it in that area.

“It will be too late to discuss this this time next year. It needs to be started today, and I think the anger needs to be directed at those who put themselves outside the process.”