Belfast Telegraph

Effigies on bonfires not what our culture is about, says DUP MLA

By Jonathan Bell

A DUP MLA has said flags, effigies and racist material on bonfires was "not what our culture is about".

Sinn Fein hit out at unionist political leaders calling on them to disassociate themselves and condemn the burning of flags and effigies on bonfires. An image of the late Martin McGuinness was placed on a bonfire in east Belfast while a racist banner appeared on another.

Read more: I was raised not to hate, says Martin McGuinness's son after effigy of late father appears on bonfire

Responding, Foyle MLA Gary Middleton said the Orange Order was opposed to the display of offensive material on bonfires.

"Nobody will hide behind the door in saying some bonfires are distasteful," he told the BBC.

"We have called on those people to reflect on that.

"The Orange Order has said there is no time or place for intimidation or hatred - that is not what our culture is about."

He did accuse Sinn Fein of heightening tensions, saying the republican party also had to condemn similar behaviour.

Meanwhile, police have said there have been nine arrests. Six were made on the Eleventh night in relation to disorder offences, with a further three on Tuesday of people following a Twelfth parade.

"Many bonfires are responsibly run," said Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd.

He said there was a "downward trajectory" in terms of offences and arrests over the Twelfth period.

"We have seen some pretty belligerent behaviour by a small number of people," he added.

"Behaviour that was clearly sectarian and racist."

The senior cop said police were investigating and would be putting what evidence they had to the Public Prosecution Service.

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