DUP MLA David Brooks says 'no place' for bonfire messages

The Cregagh bonfire.
The Cregagh bonfire.

A DUP MLA in East Belfast has condemned the placing of posters and placards on a bonfire in the Cregagh estate.

It comes as police investigate the instances of flags, effigies, election posters and other materials being placed on bonfires across Northern Ireland.

In a statement issued around 90 minutes before the lighting of the pyres, the PSNI said it had received a number of complaints and was gathering evidence.

"[We] will review to establish whether offences have been committed," it added.

David Brooks, who was elected to the Assembly in May, said the actions of some do not represent the whole community.

"There is no place in our culture for the pathetic scrawled messages placed on the Cregagh bonfire this evening," he said in a tweet."We are a proud community, proud of our culture and traditions. These images do nothing to further our cause."This does not represent the good people of the Cregagh."A number of political parties have reported the placing of the materials to the PSNI.

Representatives from Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance and People Before Profit have all condemned the actions with some calling for unionist politicians to act.

Belfast councillor Séamas de Faoite posted an image showing misogynistic and sectarian slogans on the Cregagh bonfire.

He tweeted: "Tonight I know there will be many people, including my friends and family who will enjoy the 11th night safely. I hope they have a good night. "We are all let down however by heinous threats like this in the Cregagh - an area I represent and work with residents in every week."

The lighting of bonfires is a tradition held in Northern Ireland each year, as part of celebrations known as 'The Twelfth'.

Twelfth commemorations in Northern Ireland mark the victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne, north of Dublin, in 1690 – a triumph that secured a Protestant line of succession to the British Crown.

The largest bonfire will be lit around midnight in Craigyhill in Larne.

On Monday it was measured using lasers and a drone, and found to be 202.3ft high, estimated to be a world record.

This year's events have been over shadowed by the death of John Steele. He fell from the nearby Antiville bonfire while helping to build it. Police and the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, which owns the land the pyre was built on, are investigating.

North Belfast MLA and Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly said the party has reported various 'hate crime' incidents to the PSNI.

"The burning of flags, posters and effigies on bonfires is wrong, deeply offensive and is a hate crime," he said.

"Sinn Féin has reported a number of hate crimes to the PSNI related to bonfires.

"There is an onus on unionist political and community leaders to stand up against these displays of sectarian hatred and make it clear that there is no place for them in this society.

"It is also deeply concerning that some of the bonfire builders are warning people that some bonfires they intend to light are unsafe.

"This highlights the need for safeguarding regulations which has become an imperative.

"No bonfire should pose a threat to the safety of people, property or the environment.”

People Before Profit Leader Gerry Carroll said his election posters on bonfires was 'sectarian intimidation.

"It is incredibly disappointing and saddening to see my election posters, and the images of other political representatives, being burned on bonfires tonight," he said.''Unfortunately there has been a deafening silence from many Unionist politicians in the face of this kind of sectarian intimidation. It is time for leadership, and to demand an end to this provocation.''People Before Profit has a proud history of standing up to sectarianism on both sides of the divide. We have been instrumental in building unity across communities, through our campaign work over the years.

The SDLP's Paul Doherty tweeted to say that he will 'not be deterred' from carrying on working for 'everyone'.

In a statement the PSNI said a number of complaints had been received.

A spokesperson said: "The Police Service has received a number of complaints relating to flags, effigies, election posters and other emblems being placed on bonfires. We are gathering evidence in respect of these complaints and will review to establish whether offences have been committed."

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