1. ITV Report

DUP leader condemns bonfire effigies as ‘not culture’

DUP leader Arlene Foster has told UTV she condemns the burning of election posters on loyalist bonfires and displays like the coffin bearing a picture of the late Martin McGuinness.

Concerns had been raised over some Eleventh Night bonfires which were covered in flags and politicians’ faces.

One structure off the Castlereagh Road in east Belfast featured a makeshift coffin with the face of Mrs Foster’s former partner-in-government on it.

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness passed away just four months ago.

The crude coffin with a picture of Martin McGuinness on it appeared on a bonfire in east Belfast.

“It was wrong to have posters of political opponents,” the DUP leader said, while visiting Scarva for the Sham Fight on Thursday.

“And indeed the coffin with Martin McGuinness’ face on it was not part of my culture, and it is not part of our culture, and therefore it should not have happened and I condemn it.”

Mrs Foster also addressed the issue of bonfires built close to property, including homes that had to be doused with water by firefighters to protect them from the heat and flames.

At the peak of the Eleventh Night, 999 calls were being made to the Fire Service at a rate of one every minute.

An apartment block in Belfast had its windows cracked and suffered smoke damage due to a bonfire.

Some property was damaged, including a 10-storey building at Wellwood Street in Belfast which had its windows cracked and apartments smoke-damaged.

“It is important that those who want to celebrate by building bonfires have respect for the people who live close by,” Mrs Foster said.

“Unfortunately, we saw over the Eleventh Night some building were in danger of being damaged and that’s wrong – because those people have to live there and they have to continue to live there after the Twelfth is over.”

However, the DUP leader was pleased that the Twelfth passed off peacefully and said there was no reason why it could not be a template for the future.

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