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Sinn Fein blast anti-internment bonfires as an 'attack on the community'

Republican party says anti-internment pyres in this day and age ‘intolerable’

By Allan Preston

Published 10/08/2016

Revellers at an anti-internment bonfire in the New Lodge on Monday night
Revellers at an anti-internment bonfire in the New Lodge on Monday night
Revellers at an anti-internment bonfire in the New Lodge on Monday night
Revellers at an anti-internment bonfire in the New Lodge on Monday night
Revellers at an anti-internment bonfire in the New Lodge on Monday night
A burned out car the morning after

Sinn Fein politicians have condemned a number of anti-internment bonfires in Belfast, saying scenes of flag and tyre burning should not be tolerated.

Yesterday MLA Caral Ni Chuilin said Belfast residents had been let down when tyres were added to a bonfire in the New Lodge area on Monday night.

She said statutory bodies responsible for handling illegal bonfires would not have allowed the same situation in south Belfast.

Yesterday Sinn Fein MLA Fra McCann posted a picture of another bonfire on the Falls Road in west Belfast showing a burnt out car in front of a wooden pile covered in a large Union flag.

"I'm a life long community activist, proud former internee and ex-IRA prisoner," he said.

"I have spent my whole life in the Falls, my love for our community goes deeper than words can explain. I am genuinely saddened by this.

"This is not in my name and those responsible are under no circumstances acting in the name of republicanism."

He continued: "Stay safe tonight folks."

Naomi Long, Alliance MLA for east Belfast, added to the outcry saying she was "genuinely fed up with people burning flags".

She posted a picture on social media of a bonfire site on the Divis Road. The image showed individuals covering their faces with hoods on top of a wooden pile preparing to burn a banner taken from Union flag protestors.

"Genuinely fed up with people burning flags and generally treating their community with complete disregard," she said.

Ms Long, who has had her own election posters burned on bonfire sites, added: "Respect costs nothing. If you have none for yourself, your own neighbourhood and the wider community, how on earth can you expect other people to have respect for you?"

Yesterday morning Caral Ni Chuilin explained the distress the bonfires had caused.

"Basically, this is the fifth year of unwanted bonfires in the New Lodge and along with residents and representatives of communities we have been meeting with statutory bodies," she told the BBC's Stephen Nolan show. "Would this be tolerated in the leafy suburbs of south Belfast? I don't think so. I represent constituents in this area, I believe we as ratepayers and taxpayers deserve a better service than we are getting.

"The statutory bodies let us down. It's an anti-community, anti-social event and has nothing to do with politics."

Elsewhere a teenage girl was left with a suspected broken leg following a hit-and-run at an east Belfast bonfire.

Police are investigating the Mountpottinger Road incident which happened in the early hours of yesterday. Police have appealed for witnesses to contact officers at Strandtown on 101.

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