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Adding fuel to Twelfth bonfires - IS flags and effigies of Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Bobby Sands placed on pyres

IS flag is set to be burned with republican effigies as thousands gather at bonfires

By Christopher Woodhouse

AN ISLAMIC State flag joined effigies of Bobby Sands and Gerry Adams and election posters on loyalist bonfires on Saturday.

Thousands gathered at sites throughout the province to watch as the huge pyres blazed across Northern Ireland.

Others will be set alight tonight ahead of the traditional Orange demonstrations.

The Islamic State flag was fixed to the bonfire in Ballysillan, north Belfast, which was also covered with Sinn Fein and SDLP election posters, including one with a sex toy stuck to it.

In the Ballycraigy housing estate in Antrim, a US Confederate flag emblazoned with “LVF” was on display.

Following the massacre at an African American church in the United States, the controversial flag has been removed from official US buildings due to its link with the gunman.

The same bonfire also had a coffin with an effigy of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands inside flanked by figures of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

A sign with the logo of the Ballycraigy Bonfire Kings with KAT — Kill All Taigs — written on it and flanked by images of two masked gunmen also appeared on the huge tower of pallets.

Efforts also continued yesterday afternoon to protect homes in east Belfast from a bonfire that was built on the Comber Greenway cycle path within 30 feet of houses on Chobham Street.

The Housing Executive was forced to cover windows and doors of 52 houses with fire resistant plywood to prevent damage due the extreme heat of the blaze from the monster pyre.

Some residents had already moved out of the street ahead of the bonfire being lit last night.

The Northern Ireland Fire Service recommend that a bonfire should be built at a minimum distance equal to five times its height from the nearest house.

One of the largest bonfires this year was erected in the New Mossley estate in Newtownabbey.

The massive tower, adorned with Irish tricolours and other republican flags, rose over 100 feet into the air, dwarfing the surrounding houses.

It was a simpler affair in the Shankill estate in Belfast which opted for a plain tower of wooden pallets decorated with a banner which read “Lower Shankill Supports Loyalist Ardoyne” flanked by two UDA flags.

A bonfire built in the council-owned Alderman Tommy Patton Park in Holywood, Co Down was covered in Irish tricolours and other symbolic Irish republican flags.

Meanwhile, loyalist and prominent Union Flag protester Jamie Bryson revealed that a Catholic priest from north Belfast visited his bonfire in Bangor.

Father Martin Magill, from the Sacred Heart Parish, accompanied the loyalist on a tour of the site in what Bryson described as an “uncomfortable conversation”.

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