A former Sinn Fein Stormont minister has said he will report the theft of one of his election posters that was used on a bonfire in Limavady with gun crosshairs drawn on it as a hate crime.
Former education minister John O’Dowd’s election poster was photographed on the bonfire off the Edenmore Road in Limavady on the Eleventh night.
“It’s stolen and I’ve given permission to no-one to use it. I will report it as a stolen item,” Mr.O’Dowd told the ‘Journal’.
Mr. O’Dowd said gun crosshairs drawn on his election poster “appears to me as a sinister threat and I will be reporting it as a hate crime”.
Other material on the bonfire included Irish Tricolours, wooden pallets, tyres, a sign daubed with K.A.T (Kill All Taigs) and a parking cone.
Sinn Fein East Derry MLA Caoimhe Archibald also had her election posters used on the bonfire, some with gun crosshairs drawn on.
Ms Archibald said while she found it “very distasteful”, she “will not let it intimidate me in my role as a political representative”.
“It’s time political unionism showed leadership and made themselves heard that this must not be accepted in our society moving forward,” added Ms Archibald.
Two election posters belonging to East Derry SDLP MLA Gerry Mullan also appear on the bonfire.
“It’s a very sinister and sectarian display. It shows that it doesn’t matter how, as a politician, you attempt to reach out and help everyone, there will always be that element that simply regard you as bonfire material,” said Mr. Mullan.
Slogans on a fence between the bonfire and neighbouring houses include ‘Welcome to loyalist Edenmore’, UDA and UVF, which Mr. Mullan said: “They’re despicable. It says ‘welcome’ but, really, it only means you’re welcome if you’re anti-Catholic.”
An election poster of former Upper Bann MLA and SDLP Deputy Leader, Dolores Kelly was also placed on the bonfire.
“When you reflect on this, people seem to hate what you stand for, and hate travels, but it’s long past the time we tolerate it and pretend these bonfires are a harmless piece of family fun, just as we pretend paramilitaries don’t exist. There needs to be zero toleration of this,” said Mrs. Kelly.
Election posters and banners of Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, Catherine Seeley and Gerry Adams were also placed on the bonfire.