Belfast Telegraph

Meet me face-to-face and explain yourselves, MLA challenges bonfire builders

Election posters on bonfire reported to police

By Jonathan Bell

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan has challenged those who put his elections posters on a bonfire to meet him face-to-face to explain what they are afraid of.

The West Tyrone Assembly man has also called on unionist politicians to condemn the practice of putting election posters on bonfires for the Eleventh night.

"It is a hate crime, it is theft and it sends out a message to our young people that this is acceptable to do to one side of the community," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "If it were the other way around I would be the first to condemn it."

The bonfire at Artigarvan, just outside Strabane, is bedecked with election material of Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance election candidates.

Mr McCrossan said that while it was to be expected, he said he was "alarmed" to see his image on a pyre to be burned.

"It is obviously a small minority of people that is behind this, but I would challenge them to come meet me, let me see the whites of their eyes and explain to me what they have to fear from me, my community and my culture.

Read more: Sinn Fein's John Finucane reports election posters on bonfire to PSNI

"It is hatred and it is unacceptable and it can not continue. If you did this any other day of the year you'd be arrested. I am taking a stand this year and not putting up with it any longer.

"If this is a symbol of culture who would want to be a part of it?

"It's also theft. During an election campaign someone has gone out and stolen these, which is an offence itself, and then stored them to burn."

‪I see posters of me are due to be burned (with others) on local bonfires across this constituency. Who would be proud...

Posted by Daniel Wray McCrossan Mla on Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The politician said he was heartened by the many people - from all sides - which had come out to condemn the action and offer their support.

"I represent all," he said. "There is no justification for this. My office is a shared space, it is neutral, there are no symbols and anyone can come in with an issue and I will treat them the same as the next person.

"But where is the reconciliation in this and what message is it sending out?

"And I want unionist politicians particularly those in west Tyrone to come out and condemn this. I want to hear from them because if it was there posters I would be the first to condemn it."

The police have been asked to comment.

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