Two members of the PSNI police saluted the funeral procession of loyalist John Steele, who fell to his death while building a loyalist paramilitary bonfire in Larne earlier this month.
Steele, who had a wreath placed in his memory by the ‘Red Hand Commando’ (UDA), was seen to be given a military-style salute by unidentified members of the PSNI as his coffin was passing.
He had worked on a bonfire of the South East Antrim UDA when he was reportedly hit on the head by a flying pallet, causing him to lose his footing before falling 50ft to his death.
Sectarian tensions remain high in the wake of last week’s Eleventh Night bonfires which saw the PSNI once again fail to take action against what has become the world’s largest hate crime.
The pyres were used as a platform for sickening threats and displays, including the hanging in effigy of Sinn Fein leaders Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill, and Alliance party leader Naomi Long.
Pressure building for a meaningful response from the PSNI following its claims to be ‘gathering evidence’.
The actions of its members at the Steele funeral contrast sharply with their handling of republican funerals and bonfires, a number which have been physically attacked by the force in recent years.
The force was further scandalised last week after it emerged the body of a Catholic suicide victim was deliberately defiled by members of the force.
“Over the past number of weeks nationalist communities across the north have faced a barrage of sectarian hatred,” the 32 County Sovereignty Movement said in a statement.
“Orange arches have been erected in many places they never were before; huge bonfires close to homes donning flags, effigies and other symbols of Irish national and religious culture; loyalist paramilitary flags erected en masse; and huge parades taking place, many going through nationalist areas.
“The PSNI also barricaded residents in their own streets, sealing off the Short Strand in East Belfast where a 500 metre steel wall was erected around the area.”
Other incidents to take place this week reflected a failure to tackle sectarianism. For the third time, fields belonging to Sinn Fein’s Francie Molloy have been set alight in what he believes to be a deliberately targeted sectarian attack.
A couple from the 26 Counties revealed their short-term holiday accommodation in a unionist area was cancelled ‘due to being Catholic’.
‘Shankill Butcher’ Eddie McIlwaine was brazenly included by the Orange Order in this year’s Twelfth of July events, despite having been a member of a sectarian killer gang which brutally murdered more than 20 people.
One loyalist went viral after he filmed himself threatening to kill Catholics. Jordan Hanna from Antrim town filmed himself declaring “you dirty stinking f***ing Fenian b******s – I will kill every one of you”.
The 32CSM said the events showed that politics in the North “is actually regressing”.
“With sectarianism rife and at a level not seen in many years the charade of Britain’s normalisation policy is becoming more apparent as the mask slips further.
“It remains the view of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement that the pacification and rollout of this sectarian culture must cease and that can only happen with the ending of partition and British rule in Ireland, thus restoring the sovereignty of the Irish people in all 32 Counties.”