Condemnation over local bonfire effigies

Members of Rathfriland Regeneration Committee pictured with local runner Don Travers and members of PIPS Newry and Mourne.
Members of Rathfriland Regeneration Committee pictured with local runner Don Travers and members of PIPS Newry and Mourne.

Banbridge SDLP councillor Marie Hamilton has expressed disappointment that posters of democratically elected representatives, including herself, have appeared on a bonfire in Banbridge.

Other posters placed on the bonfire were those of Sinn Fein councillor Brendan Curran and MEP Martina Anderson.

Councillor Hamilton said: “Obviously I was saddened and annoyed to see political representatives including myself placed on this bonfire.

“In 2014 you would like to think everyone had moved on and would work for a better shared future.”

Sharing the picture on her Facebook page, Councillor Hamilton posed the question question ‘Is this regarded as a Cultural Event?’

“Thankfully I was heartened that people from all sides of the community believe it is not,” said councillor Hamilton.

“There is nowhere in the world that should find this acceptable. I am well aware that posters of political representatives were placed on bonfires throughout Northern Ireland, as seemingly has been a common practice for some years, and also rumours of others who for whatever reason some loyalists took issue with and if I’m correct even included a child who has now passed away.

“We need to stand up and say that this is wrong and that no civilised society should allow this behaviour to go unchallenged.

“There are very few families I believe would like to see their father, mother, grandfather, grandmother or children’s images being placed on a bonfire, and lit.

“It’s like something from the dark ages and it should be stamped out.

“To the best of my knowledge this is a hate crime, and maybe those responsible should be made aware that it is a crime.

“I also believe that this was not a suitable venue for young impressionable children to attend.”

Sheena Campbell Upper Bann Republican Youth Committee also added their voice.

“This is a hate crime pure and simple, and has been reported as such, however we know that these actions, of a bigoted minority, do not represent the ordinary protestant and unionist people.

“We in Sinn Féin and SFRY will continue to work towards a truly united society, with equality and tolerance at its heart.”

Councillor Hamilton thanked the public for their support in condemning those who placed the posters on the bonfire and has received over 130 messages.

On Facebook, Kate Toman asked: “I wonder Marie will they be as bigoted when they need you for help?”

Cathy Lynch said: “Total disgrace!”

Carly Clarke said: “Oh this is awful..sometimes I’m so ashamed to be a part of this country. It makes me sick. Don’t let the narrow minded minority get you down Marie, you’re the better person”.

Parcel O Rogues musicians said: “Sorry to see these pics Marie, but not at all surprised. Have no problem at all with people celebrating their culture, in fact I would encourage it, but this is a hate crime. Once again the powers that be will turn a blind eye and I include the council in that”.

Ryan Mcmahon said: “Just a few shallow, uneducated, bigots who do not represent that majority of good loyalist neighbours. Marie, ignore their stupidity as they are too dumb to know better”.