Belfast Telegraph

'Wise up' - DUP leader Arlene Foster sends message to bonfire builders over posters and flags

Images of the late Martin McGuinness placed on bonfire.
Images of the late Martin McGuinness placed on bonfire.
Images of the late Martin McGuinness placed on bonfire.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said that those who burn flags or posters on bonfires "need to wise up".

Mrs Foster was speaking after pictures of the late deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were placed on a loyalist bonfire in Tullyally, outside Londonderry, on Friday.

Police are currently treating the incident as a hate crime.

"While the posters were indeed removed for a period of time, they were put back in place before the bonfire was lit," a PSNI spokesperson said.

"Police recognise the hurt this will have caused to individuals and are treating this as a hate incident."

Earlier this week the names of murdered prison officer David Black and police officer Stephen Carroll were placed on a republican bonfire in Newry, while an offensive message aimed at the late Willie Frazer was also placed on the pyre.

Flags, election posters, inciteful messages and assorted regalia after often burned on bonfires in Northern Ireland.

"Anyone burning flags or posters on bonfires needs to wise up," Mrs Foster said in a Twitter message on Saturday.

"Bonfires/beacons were lit to welcome King William III to our shores. The modern tradition of lighting a bonfire was to commemorate this.

"Bonfires should be about welcoming rather than communicating hate."

DUP leader Arlene Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster

Mrs Foster had previously condemned the Newry bonfire as a "tower of hate".

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin described both bonfire incidents as "disgraceful".

"Showing contempt for the deceased is despicable and very hurtful to their families," he said.

"Whether it is loyalist or republican is irrelevant. These shameful displays must be unequivocally condemned by all."

David Black's son Kyle, who is a serving DUP councillor, has thanked the public for their support after his father's name appeared on the bonfire in Newry.

"I am overwhelmed by the support my family and I have received, from all community backgrounds, following my Dad’s name appearing on a bonfire last night. Thank you.

"Whilst political perspectives may differ, a desire to build a society based on respect and tolerance shines through."

Mr McGuinness's son Fiachra also responded to the appearance of his father's image on the bonfire.

"Replace fear, hate and anger with love and you will be free," he tweeted.

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