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Clergyman's bonfire comments inflame unionist opinion

By David Young

Published 12/11/2016

A bonfire on the Eleventh Night
A bonfire on the Eleventh Night

Presbyterian Moderator Frank Sellar ignited a firestorm on Thursday night when he described Ulster's divisive community bonfires as "sinful".

Senior unionist politicians hit out at his remarks, made at an Ulster University chaplaincy event in Belfast.

Election posters of Alliance MLA Anna Lo and Sinn Fein's MEP Martina Anderson were placed on a bonfire in the Bloomfield estate in Bangor
Election posters of Alliance MLA Anna Lo and Sinn Fein's MEP Martina Anderson were placed on a bonfire in the Bloomfield estate in Bangor

Dr Sellar's speech was part of the Moderator's tour of the North Belfast Presbytery, where around 13,000 people attend 24 congregations.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: "The moderator is someone I have great respect for, but I am not sure that these comments help address and resolve the issues around bonfires."

The Lagan Valley MP urged tolerance and respect for how unionists celebrate their culture, "rather than suggesting that they should find a different way of expressing it".

North Belfast MLA Nelson McCausland also described the Moderator's remarks on bonfires as ""ill-considered and inaccurate". Mr McCausland said traditional Eleventh Night bonfires, lit every July, celebrate King William of Orange's arrival in Ireland and the subsequent Glorious Revolution.

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Bonfires aren't sinful in themselves, but if they are hijacked to spread triumphalism and fear, that is sinful  

"Is he suggesting that these historic events were the sins of our fathers and that they were somehow sinful?" Mr McCausland asked

Yesterday, the Presbyterian Moderator defended his views on BBC Radio Ulster's popular Nolan show.

A house catches fire at the Lower Shankill bonfire as it is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A house catches fire at the Lower Shankill bonfire as it is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A house catches fire at the Lower Shankill bonfire as it is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The Lower Shankill bonfire is lit during July 12th celebrations in Belfast , 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A man dampens down a building as a bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A man dampens down a building as a bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A bonfire is lit on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A man uses petrol to light a bonfire on the Shankill Road in Belfast on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
Bonfire at Tennent Street in west Belfast. 11th July 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Highfield Estate bonfire in west Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Bonfire at Tennent Street in west Belfast. 11th July 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Bonfire at Tennent Street in west Belfast. 11th July 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye
Eleventh night bonfire in the Highfield Estate in west Belfast July 11 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Eleventh night bonfire in the Highfield Estate in west Belfast July 11 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Eleventh night bonfire in the Highfield Estate in west Belfast July 11 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Eleventh night bonfire in the Highfield Estate in west Belfast July 11 2016. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
A huge bonfire in Tigers Bay area of Belfast before it is lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
An 11th Night bonfire at Edgarstown, Portadown, covered in at leat 30 Sinn Fein and SDLP election posters. This follows a complaint to police about another bonfire in Portadown's Corcrain Estate as a hate crime by Sinn Fein.
A huge bonfire in Tigers Bay area of Belfast before it is lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
A huge bonfire in Tigers Bay area of Belfast before it is lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PA
Loyalists climb up one of the largest 11th night Bonfires with Irish tricolour flags in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Two women take photographs of one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. AFP/Getty Images
Children atop the huge bonfire in Sandy Row, Belfast with a banner displaying an offensive message directed at SDLP MLA Clare Hanna. PA
Loyalists gesture at the foot of one of the largest 11th night Bonfires after raising Irish tricolour flags in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Loyalists gesture from the top of one of the largest 11th night Bonfires after raising Irish tricolour flags in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A youth balances on a fence as Union flags flutter in the breeze beside one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Loyalists climb up one of the largest 11th night Bonfires with Irish tricolour flags in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A youth balances on a fence beside one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A youth balances on a fence as Union flags flutter in the breeze beside one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Foreign tourists take a tour past one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A man climbs up one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
A woman steps out of a taxi to take a photograph of one of the largest 11th night Bonfires in the lower Shankill road area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 11, 2016, ahead of the lighting of the traditional 11th night bonfires. The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalists make final preparations to their bonfire on the Newtownards road on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A woman walks past tables stacked with sweets, fizzy drinks and crisps as Loyalists make final preparations to their bonfire on the Newtownards road on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalists make final preparations to their bonfire on the Newtownards road on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A Loyalist poses for a drone as he is filmed making final preparations to a huge bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Ballymacash bonfire is reported as the largest bonfire construct in the province. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalist Peter Stenhouse carries a wooden pallet as he makes final preparations to a bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A Loyalist poses for a drone as he is filmed making final preparations to a huge bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Ballymacash bonfire is reported as the largest bonfire construct in the province. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A Loyalist poses for a drone as he is filmed making final preparations to a huge bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Ballymacash bonfire is reported as the largest bonfire construct in the province. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: A Loyalist poses for a drone as he is filmed making final preparations to a huge bonfire on the Ballymacash estate on July 11, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Ballymacash bonfire is reported as the largest bonfire construct in the province. The lighting of the bonfires at midnight on the eleventh night marks the start of the annual twelfth of July celebrations within the protestant community. The Orange marches and demonstrations celebrate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 when the Protestant King William of Orange defeated the Catholic King James II on the banks of the river Boyne. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Men construct a bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
File photo dated 10/07/16 of a completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as huge bonfires, are to be lit in loyalist communities across Northern Ireland ahead of the main date in the loyal order parading season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.Issue date: Monday July 11, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
An bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
An bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Men construct a bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Men stand on a bonfire under construction in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A bonfire under construction near Chobam Street, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Men construct a bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A completed bonfire in the Hopewell area in the Lower Shankill, Belfast, as building continues on huge loyalist bonfires, which are traditionally lit on the "Eleventh night" to usher in the Twelfth commemorations. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 10, 2016. Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the main fixture in the loyal order parading season can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Pacemaker Press 11/7/2016 A on looker watches on at the preparations the for 11th night Bonfire at Ballymacash in Lisburn, ahead of the 12th of July celebration across Northern Ireland. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 11/7/2016 Preparations the for 11th night Bonfire at Donegall Road in Belfast, ahead of the 12th of July celebration across Northern Ireland. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2016: Pallets for a bonfire are stacked near Sandy Row in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2016: Pallets for a bonfire are stacked near the Comber Greenway in east Belfast, blocking a cycle path leading into the city Swings and a climbing frame have been removed from a £250,000 playground next to the Comber Greenway in east Belfast because of the dangers posed by an Eleventh Night bonfire. Homes and windows are being boarded up near the bonfire. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2016: Pallets for a bonfire are stacked near the Comber Greenway in east Belfast, blocking a cycle path leading into the city Swings and a climbing frame have been removed from a £250,000 playground next to the Comber Greenway in east Belfast because of the dangers posed by an Eleventh Night bonfire. Homes and windows are being boarded up near the bonfire. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 10th July 2016 Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Sunday 10th July 2016 The Bonfire at Drumtara, Ballee, in Ballymena which is stacked with tyres.
The Edgarstown bonfire in Portadown in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Photo: PressEye
The Edgarstown bonfire in Portadown in the final stages of preparation for the 11th July celebrations. Photo: PressEye
Ballycraigy bonfire in Antrim
Pacemaker Press Belfast 08-07-2016: Bonfire in the Loyalist Ballybeen estate in Dundonald, close the Parliament buidlings, Stormont. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 08-07-2016: Bonfire in the Loyalist Ballybeen estate in Dundonald, close the Parliament buidlings, Stormont. Picture By: Pacemaker.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th July A bonfire is prepared on the Milltown Road in south Belfast ahead of the 11th night bonfire celebrations which will take place across Northern Ireland this Monday night. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Credit - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast, UK - July 07 , Tyres on the Ballybeen Bonfire in Dundonald on July 07, 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Credit - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph Belfast, UK - July 07 , Tyres on the Ballybeen Bonfire in Dundonald on July 07, 2016 ( Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Pacemaker Press 5/7/2016 Preparations get well under way at Chobham Street Bonfire in East Belfast, on the run up to The 12th of July. Pic Pacemaker

Rev Sellar said: "If some have taken my remarks out of context and that has caused hurt, obviously I regret that. The more debate we have on this, so that next year is better than last year, last year better than the year before - that is progress and that's what I would love to see."

Below, the churchman stands over the views that have propelled him into the headlines.

But he also fleshes them out and explains the thrust of his argument more thoroughly and in a manner unlikely to offend.

An 11th Night bonfire at Edgarstown, Portadown, covered in at leat 30 Sinn Fein and SDLP election posters. This follows a complaint to police about another bonfire in Portadown's Corcrain Estate as a hate crime by Sinn Fein.
An 11th Night bonfire at Edgarstown, Portadown, covered in at leat 30 Sinn Fein and SDLP election posters. This follows a complaint to police about another bonfire in Portadown's Corcrain Estate as a hate crime by Sinn Fein.

"Bonfires in themselves are not sinful," he writes.

"But they can become sinful when instead of positively celebrating culture, they are hijacked to inculcate triumphalism and fear.

"When negativity is passed on from one generation to the next, that is wrong, because sectarianism is sinful - a cancer that eats away at the very core of our hearts.

"When bonfires cause pressure on an overstretched PSNI or bring potential risk to the Fire Service's life and limb, damage property, local people's health or the environment, then it is something that we need to call 'wrong' and find a better way."

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