Justice Minister Naomi Long's revulsion over hanging effigies at Carrick bonfire 'fun day'

Naomi Long said the images on the bonfire made her feel sick.

Justice Minister Naomi Long was left sick after effigies of her and Sinn Fein leaders were hung from a bonfire in Carrickfergus and during a children's fun day.

The Alliance leader said she was accustomed to seeing her election posters on bonfires, but this represented a new level.

She said she would not share the images in public for fear of upsetting someone, however, she said the images of those posing beside the pyre would be shared with police.

Police said they were aware of the images and were investigating.

"I honestly thought nothing could shock me anymore," she in a Twitter thread.

"I'm not sharing the images due to risk of distressing families who have lost loved ones by suicide. And because they are utterly sick. "I will, however, be sharing them and the pictures of the bonfire builders standing proudly in front of their creation with with the police."

There was condemnation on of the incident.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson condemned the displays.

"Whilst the overwhelming number of Twelfth celebrations were hugely successful, some events require further work and other displays must be outrightly condemned as wrong," he said.

"Throughout my lifetime I have had the privilege to celebrate and educate others about my identity all over the world. At no point has burning posters, flags or pictures of serving politicians featured as part of that. Nor has slogans or displays that advocate sectarian violence against anyone in this society regardless of their political position or religious views.

"I was also horrified to learn of Twelfth decorations being destroyed in Co Tyrone and other hate crimes against the loyal orders having to be investigated across the province.

"We have a rich Ulster-British cultural identity. I want people to focus on celebrating and displaying our culture rather than denigrating others.

"When republican terrorists waged a campaign of hate against people of my faith, I condemned and stood against it. When anyone tries to incite hate, I will call it out and stand foursquare against it.

"All politicians in Northern Ireland must be consistent in their condemnation of hate."

UUP leader Doug Beattie said it was "utterly vile".

"Hanging effigies on bonfires does not represent the union and unionist culture I believe in. Staying silent can not be an option."

Ms Long said effigies of her alongside Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill and Mary Lou McDonald were hung from the bonfire at Glenfield.

"These were not last minute additions," she continued.

"There are photos of a children's 'fun day' taking place at this fire while our effigies were hanging on it. Some local businesses even sponsored it.

"What kind of parent would see that and think it's acceptable for their child to see?

"I felt physically sick at those photos - not just at the effigies but at the festering hatred and sectarianism they represent; hatred that not only persists in our community but is being passed on to the next generation as normal. "This has to stop. Our children deserve better."

Ms Long's comments come after police began investigating messages on Eleventh night bonfires earlier in the week. On Wednesday police said they were working to determine if a crime had been committed.

A number of political parties reported the placing of various materials to the PSNI.

Representatives from Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance and People Before Profit all condemned the actions with some calling for unionist politicians to act. East Belfast DUP MLA David Brooks said the actions of some did 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 on Monday. "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."

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