Sinn Féin has called on the leaders of political unionism to condemn the ‘hatemongers’ who placed an image of the late Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness on a bonfire.
The image was taken from a poster advertising a charity walk for cancer services. It was placed on a bonfire along with Irish tricolours in the Tullyally area of Derry ahead of the Apprentice Boys commemoration of the siege of the city.
Sinn Féin Foyle representative Karen Mullan said: “This behaviour stands in stark contrast to the work that Martin McGuinness did to build reconciliation and reach out the hand of friendship to all communities.”
In a tweet, Mr McGuinness’ son, Fiachra, asked people to “replace fear, hate and anger with love and you will be free”.
Meanwhile, a bonfire in Newry on Thursday has been described as one of the most offensive ever attributed to nationalists. It referred to loyalist lobbyist Willie Frazer, who died in June after a battle with cancer, as well as signs mocking the deaths of 18 British soldiers and other victims.
Amid some doubts over its provenance, it was universally condemned. “This so called anti-interment bonfire has nothing whatsoever to do with the legacy of internment,” said Sinn Fein MP Mickey Brady. “It is anti-republican, and does not celebrate any aspect of Irish national identity or cultural traditions. Those responsible are under no circumstances acting in the name of republicanism.”
DERRY BONFIRE REFLECTS TENSIONS
The controversy over the upcoming trial of a member of the killer Parachute Regiment responsible for Bloody Sunday affected the annual Derry anti-internment bonfire. This year it saw ‘Soldier F’, who is due to go on trial in connection with the killings burned in effigy, alongside other flags and banners referring to his regiment. However, following negotiations with local representatives, the usual sectarian symbolism was absent, and tyres had been removed.
Rumours of a PSNI plan to attack the bonfire elevated tensions and helped to fuel clashes near the bonfire site. Last week a major riot threatened to develop in nationalist north Belfast after the PSNI besieged a bonfire site there, before later withdrawing.
SDLP councillor Brian Tierney, who leads the Derry council’s bonfire committee, said that it was important to step back after a difficult week. “We have to let what’s happened in the last six or seven days settle down and get back around the table, not only regarding the bonfire issue but also regarding the parading issue,” he said.