Belfast Telegraph

The Twelfth: Church leader contrasts bonfire menace with peaceful march

Speaks of 'A Tale of Two Cities' in Belfast

The President of the Methodist Church in Ireland said Belfast on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning was like "a tale of two cities".

Rev Dr Laurence Graham was commenting on events at an east Belfast bonfire on Tuesday night and the Orange Parade past Ardoyne on Wednesday morning.

He said: "It's almost like 'A Tale of Two Cities'.

"This morning, the parade of Orange Lodges passing the Ardoyne shops, a parade which in the recent past provoked angry and physical protests, passed in a respectful and dignified manner."

Methodist Laurence Graham.jpeg
The President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, the Rev Dr Laurence Graham

The procession and local response, he stated, was "in marked contrast to a bonfire in east Belfast which not only burned the election posters of parties they did not agree with but went beyond this by burning a coffin bearing the image of the late deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness".

An effigy of former Sinn Fein deupty first minister Martin McGuinness on a bonfire on Clonduff Road (PA)

Read more: Police urged to act over Martin McGuinness effigy and racist banner on bonfires 

Rev Graham compared these actions to the reaction of Martin McGuinness's son Emmett, who tweeted on Tuesday night: "I am very thankful that I was raised by parents never to hate anyone or anything."

Commenting on news that firefighters came under attack, for the first time in years, while dealing with bonfires, Rev Graham said he was "saddened" by the reports.

He added: ""These crews have a difficult and at times a dangerous job to do without being subject to the mindless actions of others.

“I join with many others in praying for more of the kind of reconciling conversation which led to the peaceful passing of the parade in Ardoyne," he concluded.

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