Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein hits out over bonfire warning graffiti in Belfast

By Victoria Leonard

Threats painted on walls close to where bonfire material was removed in Belfast have been slammed by Sinn Fein.

Two walls were defaced with graffiti on Victoria Parade in the New Lodge, one at the bottom of Oisin House and another on the side of a family centre and nursery.

One message read: "Our wood goes... your vans go!!! Take at your own risk!!!"

Another criticises Sinn Fein and the PSNI.

Pallets and other material were removed by contractors employed by the Housing Executive and community volunteers early on July 21.

Some republican areas light anti-internment bonfires on August 9 to commemorate the introduction of detention without trial in 1971. However, the burning of these bonfires is now in decline and Sinn Fein has blamed anti-social elements for building recent pyres.

North Belfast councillor JJ Magee said: "The threats painted against workers in the New Lodge who helped remove bonfire material is completely unacceptable.

"These workers were acting on behalf of residents who do not want to see properties damaged or someone injured as a result of an illegal bonfire. The bonfire material was dumped close to homes and a nursery unit.

"The anti-social elements involved in trying to build a bonfire need to desist from the intimidation against workers and their attempt to ride roughshod over the wishes of local residents.

"This community has already sent a very clear message and is doing so again - these are not anti-internment bonfires, they are not welcome and those trying to make our community a better place should not be the subject of intimidation.

"This is an anti-social element in the community who have no support and the residents want them to get off their backs and leave them in peace.

"We want them to go and do other things such as summer schemes, what kids should do and what the other good kids are doing. Stop collecting bonfire wood."

Mr Magee directly appealed to parents to take responsibility for their children's activities.

A Housing Executive spokeswoman said: "We have been made aware that graffiti has appeared on a wall in the New Lodge.

"The Housing Executive takes all threats very seriously, but we have no grounds to believe a direct threat has been made against our contractors.

"Removal of material from the New Lodge area has been with full community support."

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