Belfast Telegraph

Police to investigate Ballymurphy Massacre banner on Belfast bonfire

Sinn Fein have reported a bonfire on Belfast's Highfield Estate to the PSNI after a banner appeared on it in reference to the Ballymurphy Massacre.

Police confirmed they would investigate reports of offensive material on the bonfire to determine if a crime had been committed.

The bonfire has a banner which reads "F*** your Ballymurphy Massacre Inquiry" and another which says K.A.T which stands for "Kill All Taigs".

Electoral posters also feature on the bonfire.

Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey said the items had been reported as hate crimes and said the banner referencing the Ballymurphy Massacre was deeply insulting and hurtful to the families of the victims.

Ten people, including a Catholic priest and a mother-of-eight, were killed during three days of gunfire involving members of the Parachute Regiment in August 1971. Another man died of a heart attack following an alleged violent confrontation with the troops in the west Belfast estate.

An inquest into the killings is set to begin later this year.

West Belfast MP Mr Maskey has called on political and community figures in the Highfield estate to use their influence to have offensive banners, election posters and flags removed immediately.

“I have reported the display of the banner on the Highfield bonfire, which reads ‘F*** your Ballymurphy Massacre Inquiry’ and Kill all Taigs’, as a hate crime to the PSNI.

“This is deeply offensive and hurtful to the families of the victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre who have had to wait almost half a century for answers about the killing of their loved ones by the British army in August 1971.

“There can be no place either for the display of naked sectarianism which advocates the killing of anyone of this society or for the burning of election posters and national flags.

“I am calling on political and community leaders to use their influence to have these very graphic displays of hatred and bigotry removed from the bonfires immediately and Sinn Féin will be raising this matter further later today in a meeting with the police.”

The PSNI confirmed that the bonfire had been brought to their attention.

"Police have received reports that material, some of which is clearly distasteful and offensive, has been placed on a bonfire in the Highfield Estate in Belfast," a spokesperson said.

"Enquiries will be carried out to determine if a crime has been committed. If enquiries determine that this is the case a police investigation will follow.

"We take hate crime very seriously and actively investigate all incidents reported to us. Hate crime is wrong on all levels and the PSNI will do everything it can to ensure that everyone, from whatever background, can live free from prejudice, fear and discrimination."

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