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Thousands turn out to watch Eleventh Night bonfires burn across Northern Ireland

By Allan Preston

Towns and cities across Northern Ireland were aglow as Eleventh Night celebrations kicked off ahead of today’s Twelfth parades.

Firefighters had been called out to six bonfires by 11pm last night, answering a total of 30 emergency calls since teatime.

Thousands gathered to light the traditional Eleventh Night pyres before the biggest day in the marching calender.

However, several bonfires drew criticism as tricolours and election posters of nationalist and Alliance Party politicians were burned.

Downpatrick Alliance councillor Patrick Brown posted a picture on social media of a bonfire site in Killyleagh on which posters of SDLP councillor Joe Boyle and Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong could be clearly seen.

“Shameful to see Alliance and SDLP posters and tricolours on the bonfire in Killyleagh,” he wrote. “How can this be described as ‘culture’?”

Images of Sinn Fein MLAs Caral Ni Chuilin and Gerry Kelly were placed on a north Belfast bonfire, as well as SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon.

On the Sandy Row bonfire, posters of SDLP MLA Claire Hanna could be seen along with a large banner with an obscene message directed at her. Posters of the Sinn Fein Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir also featured.

Also in South Belfast, the bonfire at the Annadale flats near the Ormeau bridge had a number of Sinn Fein posters placed on the wooden pile.

In Larne, meanwhile, a pyre had pictures of the Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson placed on it, alongside an Alliance Assembly election candidate.

Critics also hit out at the increased number of bonfires made of tyres this year. At several sites across Northern Ireland, such as the Ballybeen bonfire at Dundonald, environmental concerns about noxious fumes have been raised after large number of tyres were dumped for burning.

The blaze at New Mossley
The blaze at New Mossley
The poster-strewn bonfire at Edgarstown, Portadown

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