Senators wish Orange Order and supporters safe and happy July 12 but lament burning of Irish symbols on bonfires

Senators in Dublin wished the Loyal Orders a happy July 12 celebration yesterday but lamented the burning of Irish flags and symbols on some loyalist bonfires over the weekend.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 5:41 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 5:42 pm

Senator Emer Currie said: "I wish the people on our island to have a happy and safe celebration of this day. It is an important day for the community. Last year celebrations were cancelled because the Covid-19 and this was respected and I hope that they proceed safely."

The Fine Gael Senator, who is the daughter of the SDLP founder Austin Currie, praised the DUP Mayor of Derry and Strabane for attending the annual National Day of Commemoration at Collins Barracks on Sunday that coincides with the signing of the truce that ended the War of Independence in 1921 and commemorates all Irish people who died in past wars or peacekeeping missions.

But she said more work is needed to build respect.

A bonfire in Limavady that was painted in the colours of the national flag.
A bonfire in Limavady that was painted in the colours of the national flag.

"This weekend showed us that while progress is being made in some respects with a DUP city mayor attending our National Day of Commemoration, the First Minister and deputy First Minister attended a commemoration of the Battle of the Somme and many bonfires went off at the weekend without controversy, we still have a long way to go.

"We also saw the burning of Irish flags and other Irish or Catholic symbols and images of people who support the protocol over the weekend. That is not a celebration of culture. It is very disappointing for those people who respect different cultures. Many people on this island work hard to do that in an inclusive way and that behaviour should be condemned without any excuses," she said.

An Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly, said: "I also join the Senator in wishing those celebrating July 12 in Northern Ireland a very safe day and, hopefully, it will pass off peacefully.

"I also join with her on the issue of the bonfires. I have attended bonfires in Northern Ireland with members of the Ulster Unionist Party and I join with her and with members of the Ulster Unionist Party who pointed out that the burning flags and of election posters of candidates is not a part of their culture and of what they wish to celebrate or mark."

Fine Gael's leader in the Seanad Regina Doherty echoed these sentiments and wished the Orange Order and its supporters well.

"It is a celebration for that community and the people who live on that part of our island. I do not understand people burning flags to assert their own culture and causing offence to people of a different culture who live on the same island. Having a shared island means that we should have respect for each other, even if we do not necessarily agree. I concur with everything the Senator said."