Belfast Telegraph

Local Election 2019

Get a sense of humour, DUP man blasts Sinn Fein over burning leaflet Facebook post criticism

Jonathan Craig
Jonathan Craig
The banner which Mary Lou McDonald posed behind in New York
Sinister: the image
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

A DUP councillor has told Sinn Fein to "get a sense of humour" after the party complained about a social media post showing its election leaflets burning in a fire.

Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor Jonathan Craig posted a short clip showing Sinn Fein election leaflets on fire over the weekend.

"Finally found a good use for our Sinn Fein literature," said the former MLA.

Finally found a good use for our Sinn Fein literature

Posted by Jonathan Craig on Saturday, April 27, 2019

Sinn Fein called on the DUP to distance itself from the post saying the matter would be reported to the Electoral Commission, Electoral Office, the local government Ombudsman and the PSNI.

"This is highly irresponsible and comes at a time when other people have stolen, burned and vandalised Sinn Fein posters and election material," said Sinn Fein's Joe Duffy.

"We have also had widespread incidents of hate crimes in the past where Sinn Fein election posters have been burned on loyalist bonfires.

"The DUP need to state whether they support this post by their candidate and the burning of election material."

The DUP, however, said that while the most appropriate place for the leaflet may have been a recycling bin it questioned if a complaint to police was a worthwhile use of their time. It also pointed to Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald's apology for walking behind an "England out of Ireland" banner during a New York St Patrick's day parade and of a controversial post on one of its regional Facebook accounts.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Jonathan Craig said: "They can report it to whoever they want, they need to get a sense of humour.

"I can do whatever I want with their literature that they post through my door. It was useful for lighting the fire."

Asked if he thought the post may encourage others to attack election posters, he said that would be "a bit of a jump" and any lawyer that could argue that point successfully would be in high demand.

"I'm sure many of their supporters do the same to my own and it would not cost me a thought if they did," he added.

A DUP spokesperson added: “This post can be judged against the pictures of gunmen on a Sinn Fein Facebook page, other images on a candidate's Twitter posts and the fact their party president was forced to apologise for walking behind an offensive banner only a few weeks ago.

Sinister: the image
Sinister: the image
The banner which Mary Lou McDonald posed behind in New York

"Clearly the most appropriate place for this leaflet might have been in the appropriate recycling bin.

"Sinn Fein could clarify whether they believe the complaint this candidate intends to submit is a worthwhile use of valuable police time.”

Over recent weeks many parties have complained their election posters on lampposts have been damaged or torn down with police making a number of arrests.

And earlier this month unionist politicians reacted angrily after a sinister image of a gunman was posted on the official North Down Sinn Fein Facebook page.

The composite image - which was quickly removed by the party - showed a gunman bearing an Armalite-type rifle and another man wearing paramilitary-style dress with his face covered and beret with an Easter lily pin. In the centre was a election poster for Sinn Fein's Kieran Maxwell.

Sinn Fein said the image was posted in error and it would tighten up its admin for the page.

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