Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Suicide victim memorial 'placed on loyalist bonfire' in Belfast

The memorial from which statue was stolen
Anger has erupted after the statue of the Virgin Mary was put on top of the huge structure at Lanark Way in west Belfast. Pictured here is the memorial to a suicide victim from which statue was stolen
The huge bonfire on Lanark Way
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
Preparations get underway at the Bonfire in Lanark Way in Belfast, ahead of the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations Pacemaker Press 7/7/2014
Ballyduff bonfire in Newtownabbey July 2014
Election posters of Alliance member Anna Lo on the Bonfire in Carrickfergus ahead of the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations Pacemaker Press 7/7/2014
Mount Vernon North Belfast july 2014
Young loyalists scale the huge face of the bonfire on Lanark Way, off the Shankill
Preparations get underway at the Bonfire in Lanark Way in Belfast, ahead of the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations Pic Pacemaker
Sandy Row South Belfast 2014
A statue of our the Virgin Mary placed on a loyalist bonfire at Lanark Way PACEMAKER
Bonfire on Shankill Road 2012
Bonfire on Shankill Road 2012
A statue of our lady placed on a loyalist bonfire at Lanark Way
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/07/2013 Young men pictured enjoying the Bonfire in King George Playing Fields Upper Newtownards Road Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD The 12th night bonfire celebrations get underway in Erinvale Estate in Finaghy Road South last night. The bonfire fell over close to people watching. A man runs as the bonfire starts to fall
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Press Eye - Belfast - Thursday 11th July 2013 General view of at the bonfire in the loyalist Highfield Estate in west Belfast. In Northern Ireland, the Eleventh Night or 11th Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Thursday 11th July 2013 General view of at the bonfire in the loyalist Highfield Estate in west Belfast. In Northern Ireland, the Eleventh Night or 11th Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Thursday 11th July 2013 General view of at the bonfire in the loyalist Highfield Estate in west Belfast. In Northern Ireland, the Eleventh Night or 11th Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Pacemaker press Young men from the Shankill area of Belfast put the finishing touch on their bonfire's on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press Young men from the Shankill area of Belfast put the finishing touch on their bonfire's on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire at Belvoir, South Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/07/2013 Katie-Leigh Bain,Curtis Johnston and Cherene Grundmann pictured enjoying the Bonfire in King George Playing Fields Upper Newtownards Road Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/7/13 The Bonfire in Ballyduff on the outskirt's of Belfast on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press Young men from the Shankill area of Belfast put the finishing touch on their bonfire's on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire at Belvoir, South Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
General view of the bonfire on Lanark Way off the Shankill Road in west Belfast.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
?Presseye.com 10th July 2013 General Views of some of the Bonfires in and Around Belfast Donegall Road Bonfire with Mark Wilson and William Magee ?Presseye.com
?Presseye.com 10th July 2013 General Views of some of the Bonfires in and Around Belfast The bonfire at New Mossley ?Presseye.com
?Presseye.com 10th July 2013 General Views of some of the Bonfires in and Around Belfast Belvoir Bonfire ?Presseye.com
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire at Belvoir, South Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

A religious icon believed to have been stolen from a memorial to a suicide victim was allegedly placed on a loyalist bonfire.

Anger has erupted after the statue of the Virgin Mary was put on top of the huge structure at Lanark Way in west Belfast.

People in the area said it was the same statue which was stolen from a memorial to a local suicide victim in recent days.

The man, an architect, died before completion of a project he was overseeing.

It is understood the statue was stolen between Friday night and Monday morning.

The icon later appeared on top of the Lanark Way bonfire.

It is the second year in a row that a statue of the Virgin Mary has appeared on the bonfire.

Police said they were aware of the matter and were investigating.

The statue has since been removed from the bonfire, built ahead of the annual 11th night events.

Sinn Féin councillor Ciaran Beattie said the statue's theft was aimed at ramping up tensions in the area.

"The theft of this statue must be condemned," he said. "To add insult to injury the statue was then pictured on top of a nearby loyalist bonfire at Lanark Way and there are concerns in the local area that it will be burned.

"This theft was clearly designed to heighten tensions in the area.

"The Orange Order has said bonfires should be community celebrations. The theft of this holy statue flies in the face of those public positions. Is this part of the so-called graduated response that the alliance of unionist parties and the representatives of loyalist paramilitaries have been talking about?

"I would appeal for someone to have the decency to return this statue safely."

DUP councillor Brian Kingston disputed claims a statue had been placed on the bonfire.

"I have spoken to senior PSNI officers and local community representatives and no-one has seen this alleged incident occurring," he said.

"I have been assured by people close to the bonfire builders that no statue has been placed on the bonfire."

He appealed for the return of the statue reported stolen from the Springfield Road.

Last July a statue of the Virgin Mary was defaced and put on the Lanark Way bonfire. It was returned to Fr Gary Donegan, Rector of Holy Cross Church, by a member of the Protestant community before the bonfire was lit. The face of the statue was missing and it had two major cracks along with scorch marks on the back.

It is not the first time loyalist bonfires have caused anger.

Last year a figure, believed to depict Fr Matt Wallace, a west Belfast priest who committed suicide, was placed in a grotesque pose on an 11th night bonfire in the loyalist Rathcoole estate in Newtownabbey.

An effigy of the Pope was burnt in Sandy Row, while the national flags of Poland, Palestine and the Vatican were burned at Cluan Place. However, in one case, bungling loyalists confused the flag of the Ivory Coast with an Irish tricolour, mistakenly burning it on a bonfire.

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