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Dial down the rhetoric: Arlene Foster issues message to those engaged in 'campaign of demonisation' against Loyalist bonfire builders

  • Bonfire builders urged not to 'play into hands of those wanting to demonise culture'
  • No culture should dominate another
  • Irish language 'valuable part of society' and must be respected

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DUP leader Arlene Foster and party colleagues. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

DUP leader Arlene Foster and party colleagues. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

DUP leader Arlene Foster and party colleagues. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Arlene Foster has issued a message to those she says are engaged in a "campaign of demonisation" against those wanting to celebrate the Twelfth saying they needed to "dial down the rhetoric" while urging bonfire builders not to play into their hands.

The DUP leader issued a lengthly statement just hours ahead of the lighting of the bonfires for the Eleventh night.

In it she discussed the issue of the bonfires, but did not specifically address the matter of the Belfast City Council injunction against four sites across Belfast. The DUP, UUP and PUP have refused to comment on claims they supported the council's move on the matter.

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill has called on the PSNI Chief Constable to "end the display of hate" over the Twelfth. Her call came after election material for members of her party were again placed on bonfires.

"Bonfires on the eleventh night have long been part of the unionist culture," said Arlene Foster.

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"Those who have waged a campaign of demonisation against such celebrations should dial down the rhetoric.  To those who build bonfires, I urge them to not play into the hands of those who want to demonise the culture.

"They should be respectful of their neighbours. Endangering property and lives should not be a concern for residents on the eleventh night.  These should be events that all the family can enjoy. We will work constructively with communities to achieve this."

I would like to wish everyone a peaceful and enjoyable Twelfth.

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The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The 'eleventh nightÕ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh nightÕ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh night’ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Lower Shankill bonfire in west Belfast. [Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye 11-07-17]

The Lower Shankill bonfire in west Belfast. [Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye 11-07-17]

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh night bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The 'eleventh nightÕ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The 'eleventh nightÕ bonfire is lit at the Milner Street area of the Village in South Belfast as celebrations of William of Orange's victory commence on July 11th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters near a lit bonfire on Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017.

Firefighters near a lit bonfire on Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017.

PA

The Lower Shankill bonfire in west Belfast. [Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye 11-07-17]

The Lower Shankill bonfire in west Belfast. [Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye 11-07-17]

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

A quiet moment as the Sandy Row bonfire in south Belfast starts to die down. [Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye]

A quiet moment as the Sandy Row bonfire in south Belfast starts to die down. [Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye]

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

PA

Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

PA

Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

PA

Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

PA

Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

PA

Onlookers watch as firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Onlookers watch as firefighters douse nearby buildings as a bonfire is lit in Albertbridge Road, Belfast ahead of the key date in the protestant loyal order marching season - the Twelfth of July. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday July 11, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

PA

Loyalists finish a bonfire in East Belfast in preparation for the 11th night celebrations on July 11, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Loyalists finish a bonfire in East Belfast in preparation for the 11th night celebrations on July 11, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11:  Loyalists finish a bonfire in East Belfast in preparation for the 11th night celebrations on July 11, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalists finish a bonfire in East Belfast in preparation for the 11th night celebrations on July 11, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11:  Loyalists finish a bonfire in East Belfast in preparation for the 11th night celebrations on July 11, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalists finish a bonfire in East Belfast in preparation for the 11th night celebrations on July 11, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11:  Loyalists finish a bonfire in East Belfast in preparation for the 11th night celebrations on July 11, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 11: Loyalists finish a bonfire in East Belfast in preparation for the 11th night celebrations on July 11, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

LISBURN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Having finished school for the summer 13 year old Tyler Reid helps guard the Lisburn bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. The bonfires, which are lit on the stroke of midnight on the 11th night, mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades in Northern Ireland. The annual Orange marches celebrate the protestant King William of Orange's victory over the catholic English King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

LISBURN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Having finished school for the summer 13 year old Tyler Reid helps guard the Lisburn bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. The bonfires, which are lit on the stroke of midnight on the 11th night, mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades in Northern Ireland. The annual Orange marches celebrate the protestant King William of Orange's victory over the catholic English King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10:  A Loyalist climbs the Conway street bonfire built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades.   (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) ***BESTPIX***

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: A Loyalist climbs the Conway street bonfire built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) ***BESTPIX***

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. 
Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. 
Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. 
Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. 
Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. 
Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. 
Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. 
Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Workmen board up windows of property beside a bonfire at the end of the Comber Greenway off Ravenscroft Avenue in east Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Masked men continue to build a bonfire at Inverary Playing Fields in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Masked men continue to build a bonfire at Inverary Playing Fields in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

Masked men continue to build a bonfire at Inverary Playing Fields in Belfast. Police in Northern Ireland have warned their resources could be stretched amid growing fears of tension around the burning of Eleventh night bonfires. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 10, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

Masked men continue to build a bonfire at Inverary Playing Fields in Belfast. Police in Northern Ireland have warned their resources could be stretched amid growing fears of tension around the burning of Eleventh night bonfires. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 10, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Twelfth. Photo credit should read: PA Wire

PA

Loyalists sit on the Sandy Row bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Loyalists sit on the Sandy Row bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Belfast Telegraph  09-07-2017
Roden Street bonfire. The largest bonfire in Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Roden Street bonfire. The largest bonfire in Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph  09-07-2017
Roden Street bonfire. The largest bonfire in Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Roden Street bonfire. The largest bonfire in Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph  09-07-2017
Roden Street bonfire. The largest bonfire in Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Roden Street bonfire. The largest bonfire in Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph  09-07-2017
Roden Street bonfire. The largest bonfire in Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Roden Street bonfire. The largest bonfire in Belfast.

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10:  Loyalists climb The Village bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Loyalists climb The Village bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Tradition holds that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night when Protestant King William III and his forces landed at Carrickfergus to fight the Catholic Jacobites, supporters of the exiled Catholic King James II. The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10:  Loyalists climb The Village bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Loyalists climb The Village bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10:  Loyalists climb The Village bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Loyalists climb The Village bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10:  The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: The bonfires also mark the beginning of the annual 12th of July Orange parades. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10:  Loyalists sit on the Sandy Row bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Loyalists sit on the Sandy Row bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10:  Loyalists sit on the Sandy Row bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Loyalists sit on the Sandy Row bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10:  Loyalists sit on the Sandy Row bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: Loyalists sit on the Sandy Row bonfire being built in preparation for the 11th night bonfire on July 10, 2017 in Belfast. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

LARNE, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: 'Hurka' the chief architect and builder of the Craigyhill bonfire takes a break from stacking pallets to pose with his creation whilst balancing on a ladder on July 10, 2017 in Larne, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

LARNE, NORTHERN IRELAND - JULY 10: 'Hurka' the chief architect and builder of the Craigyhill bonfire takes a break from stacking pallets to pose with his creation whilst balancing on a ladder on July 10, 2017 in Larne, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Getty Images

General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

General views of the square shaped bonfire on Milner Street in South Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Pastor Lucas Parks at his church in east Belfast close to the walkway bonfire on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Pastor Lucas Parks at his church in east Belfast close to the walkway bonfire on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Conway Street bonfire in West Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The Conway Street bonfire in West Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Conway Street bonfire in West Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The Conway Street bonfire in West Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Conway Street bonfire in West Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

The Conway Street bonfire in West Belfast on July 10th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield Walkway bonfire site.

Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield Walkway bonfire site.

Posters of Sinn Fein politicians are seen placed on a bonfire in the Shankill area of west Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

Posters of Sinn Fein politicians are seen placed on a bonfire in the Shankill area of west Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

A wooden pallet is carried to a bonfire in the Shankill area of west Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires 
[Photo: Paul Faith /AFP/Getty Images]

A wooden pallet is carried to a bonfire in the Shankill area of west Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires [Photo: Paul Faith /AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

Bonfire builders Dean Neeson and Graeme Stewart carry wooden pallets to a bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith /AFP/Getty Images]

Bonfire builders Dean Neeson and Graeme Stewart carry wooden pallets to a bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith /AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

Posters of Sinn Fein politicians are seen placed on a bonfire in Shankill. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

Posters of Sinn Fein politicians are seen placed on a bonfire in Shankill. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

A bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn.[Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

A bonfire in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn.[Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

A bonfire is pictured in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

A bonfire is pictured in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

A bonfire towers over the housing in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

A bonfire towers over the housing in the Ballymacash area of Lisburn. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

Children play on a bonfire in the village area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires 
The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

Children play on a bonfire in the village area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires The Eleventh Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the famous battle were Protestant King William III of Orange defeated Catholic King James II at the battle of the Boyne on July 12, 1690. / AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

A Union flag flutters in the breeze in front of a bonfire in the village area of Belfast. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

A Union flag flutters in the breeze in front of a bonfire in the village area of Belfast. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

Former Bonfire builder Colin Tweedie, poses for a photograph beside a bonfire in the village area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

Former Bonfire builder Colin Tweedie, poses for a photograph beside a bonfire in the village area of Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

Former Bonfire builder Colin Tweedie (R), inspects a bonfire in the village area of Belfast on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

Former Bonfire builder Colin Tweedie (R), inspects a bonfire in the village area of Belfast on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

Bonfire builder Ryan Preston poses for a photograph on the Doonbeg bonfire in Rathcoole in north Belfast on July 10, 2017 ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

Bonfire builder Ryan Preston poses for a photograph on the Doonbeg bonfire in Rathcoole in north Belfast on July 10, 2017 ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

Bonfire builder Ryan Preston poses for a photograph on the Doonbeg bonfire in Rathcoole on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

Bonfire builder Ryan Preston poses for a photograph on the Doonbeg bonfire in Rathcoole on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

Bonfire builder Ryan Preston poses for a photograph on the Doonbeg bonfire in Rathcoole on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

Bonfire builder Ryan Preston poses for a photograph on the Doonbeg bonfire in Rathcoole on July 10, 2017, ahead of the traditional 11th night bonfires. [Photo: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images]

AFP/Getty Images

Belfast Telegraph  09-07-2017
East Belfast Bonfire at Avoniel Leisure Centre car park that has had an injunction by Belfast City Council  in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 East Belfast Bonfire at Avoniel Leisure Centre car park that has had an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.

East Belfast Bonfire at Avoniel Leisure Centre car park that has had an injunction by Belfast City Council  in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.

East Belfast Bonfire at Avoniel Leisure Centre car park that has had an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph  09-07-2017
Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway
East Belfast Bonfire ath Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway has had an injunction by Belfast City Council  in place to stop wood from being dumped at the bonfire site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway East Belfast Bonfire ath Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway has had an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the bonfire site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph  09-07-2017
Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway
East Belfast Bonfire ath Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway has had an injunction by Belfast City Council  in place to stop wood from being dumped at the bonfire site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway East Belfast Bonfire ath Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway has had an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the bonfire site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph  09-07-2017
Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway
East Belfast Bonfire ath Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway has had an injunction by Belfast City Council  in place to stop wood from being dumped at the bonfire site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway East Belfast Bonfire ath Ravenscroft Avenue car park/Bloomfield walkway has had an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the bonfire site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph  09-07-2017
East Belfast Bonfire at Inverary playing fields that has an injunction by Belfast City Council  in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 East Belfast Bonfire at Inverary playing fields that has an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph  09-07-2017
East Belfast Bonfire at Inverary playing fields that has an injunction by Belfast City Council  in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 East Belfast Bonfire at Inverary playing fields that has an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph  09-07-2017
East Belfast Bonfire at Inverary playing fields that has an injunction by Belfast City Council  in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.

Belfast Telegraph 09-07-2017 East Belfast Bonfire at Inverary playing fields that has an injunction by Belfast City Council in place to stop wood from being dumped at the site and added to the bonfire.

/

The Eleventh Night from above Belfast. Pic Stephen Owens.

Mrs Foster continued: "The Orange Institution is part of the fabric of our society and I would hope that we can move forward to a point where expressions of Orange culture can not only be free from attack, but can be supported and respected by all in our society. I do not want any culture to threaten or dominate any other. A shared society in Northern Ireland must have room for all but without elevating or promoting one section of society above another."

The Fermanagh MLA also repeated her call for devolution to be restored saying local representatives should be making decision on health, education and the economy.

"Those are the issues that matter most to our society and I believe that message received a resounding endorsement at the General Election in June," She said.

On the Irish language, she described it as "unfortunate devolution has been held to ransom by republicans" saying the language was a valuable part of Northern Ireland society and "must be respected".

Northern Ireland must have room for all but without elevating or promoting one section of society above another.

Mrs Foster also thanked Orange Lodges for their "positive role" in encouraging others to vote.

"Despite the image sometimes portrayed, it is not politics that dominates the 12th July however. It is the families who come together as they have done for generations. It is the acquaintances that are refreshed in the field or on the street. It is the celebration of civil and religious liberty and the centrality of faith to the Orange Institution which are far more important.

"I would hope that everyone will enjoy the Twelfth celebrations, both those who do so every year, and perhaps others who will explore this part of our culture and heritage for the first time. Hopefully we can all help build a Northern Ireland where there is respect, tolerance and support for all our cultures and traditions, celebrated equally with one another."


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