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Bonfires can be a true expression of culture

 

Much has been said in recent weeks - even recent years - about the tradition of bonfires. Bonfires have been used by mankind for millennia to mark events, guide travellers and to unite people. They are a significant element of social history.

I have attended my local bonfire for as long as I can remember, without major incident. I know the pride and dedication that young people - particularly young boys - put in to building the bonfire, often with extremely considered planning in terms of structure.

That said, my unionism, or affinity to July commemorations, isn't connected to the height, or overall size, of a bonfire; nor do I think tyres should be on fires.

Eleventh Night bonfires hark back to the signals which marked the arrival of King William of Orange all those years ago. I may be a minority - I don't think I am and truly hope I am not - but I don't need to burn, or verbally deprecate, the symbols, or traditions, of anyone else in order to express my culture. Indeed, I think doing so diminishes the value of one's culture.

I understand historic sentiments and how this has been perpetuated within an educational and political vacuum, but I'm confident enough in my own background that I can demonstrate and share it positively.

I'd love to see the day when no flags, posters, effigies, or emblems are burnt by any community against another. Culture should be an expression of positives and available for sharing with others.

Political and so-called 'community' leaders are often silent on these issues, but we have much to learn from each other and, rather than looking around with contempt, we should strive to appreciate each other with respect.

Cllr Mark McKinty (UUP)

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

Belfast Telegraph

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