Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland bonfire lit early a 'bid to stoke tensions'

By Gerald Lennon

The early lighting of a Co Armagh bonfire was said to be a bid to heighten tensions.

The bonfire was set alight on Friday shortly after 3am in the Edenderry area of  Portadown area.

Bonfires are usually prepared and lit during the Northern Ireland celebrations on July 11, in preparation for the Twelfth of July commemorations. However, some are lit early in the lead up to the Twelfth celebrations and this Edenderry site was scheduled for a July 2 burning.

"Disappointed that some would deny freedom of cultural expression," said UUP MLA Doug Beattie.

"It’s ok to disagree it’s not ok to ramp up tensions by burning it down 3 days before it is lit."

DUP MLA Carla Lockhart also took to Twitter to condemn the incident. She said it was a "disgraceful attempt to stoke tensions".

DUP councillor Darryn Causby also condemned the incident.

"Calm heads are required," he added

The community plan to rebuild in preparation for the July 2 celebration.

The Police and the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service both arrived at the scene shortly after 3:00am.

Chief Inspector Barney O’Connor, stated: “Police alongside stakeholder partners in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon District have been engaging with the community to reduce tensions and risks around bonfires.

"I urge that this does not detract from this collaborative approach and ask those with influence ensure this continues over the coming weeks to bring about a peaceful and safe summer for all.”

The Police are now investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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