Belfast Telegraph

'Bigotry and hatred' behind burning of Polish flags in Belfast must stop, warns group

Maciek Bator, founder of the Polish Association in Northern Ireland, has described the burning of his country's national flag by loyalists on bonfires in Northern Ireland as "despicable".

The flags, along with Irish Tricolours, were placed on bonfires in Belfast in the build-up to the Eleventh Night.

An election poster for Polish SDLP candidate Magdalena Wolska was also burned on one of the bonfires.

Mr Bator said: "We call on all political and community leaders in Northern Ireland to take urgent action to stop hatred and bigotry.

"By not taking any actions and remaining silent, the leaders are effectively endorsing this sort of despicable behaviour."

He issued the statement after receiving a number of complaints and requests for action to be taken.

"We call on all political and community leaders in Northern Ireland to take urgent action to stop hatred and bigotry," he said.

"By not taking any actions and remaining silent, the leaders are effectively endorsing this sort of despicable behaviour."

"The Polish flag is a symbol of freedom, independence, and peace for the 30,000 Polish people living in Northern Ireland and around 80 million across the globe.

"During World War II, Polish soldiers fought in alliances against Nazi forces and provided assistance in the Battle of Britain to help defend the United Kingdom from German invasion.

"A number of Polish aircraft men died in Northern Ireland and are buried in Northern Irish ground."

The SDLP's International Secretary Claire Hanna - a party colleague of Ms Wolska, whose election poster was burned - said the actions showed "a disturbing seam of racism bubbling to the surface".

She added: "What we saw last week is yet another worrying symptom of the fact that we still have people in the North who cannot accept difference.

"All hate crimes, whether it be those seen at the bonfires or the burning of Orange Halls or GAA premises, should be referred to the police so that justice can take its course."

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