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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 15 November, 2018

Sinn Féin member reports hate crime after election posters placed on bonfire

An injunction preventing more material being added to four bonfires has also been broken ahead of the lighting of these fires this evening.

Updated 10am

Eleventh night bonfires Bonfires, like this one in Belfast yesterday, will be lit across Northern Ireland to celebrate the start of marching season. Source: PA

A SINN FÉIN candidate in the recent general election has reported a hate crime to police after posters from his election campaign were placed at the top of a bonfire due to be lit ahead of the Twelfth July parade season.

John Finucane, the son of murdered human rights lawyer Pat Finucane, failed to win a seat in the election. This morning he shared a photo from one bonfire site which showed several of his posters had been attached to pallets.

Posters from two other candidates have also been placed on the bonfire, as well as a flag for the Islamic State terrorist group.

Finucane said he has reported the incident to police.

The bonfires have been the subject of recent controversy as Belfast City Council was forced to launch an investigation into why it was storing thousands of pallets for the event.

Up to 3,000 pallets were stolen from a council premises and it is believed loyalist paramilitaries were behind the theft as they feared the stored pallets would not be handed over.

Eleventh night bonfires The council has been forced to launch an investigation to look at why it was storing thousands of wooden pallets for these bonfires. Source: PA

The council also secured a High Court injunction on Friday preventing any more material being added to four loyalist bonfires due to health and safety concerns.

This order appears to have been broken ahead of the lighting of the bonfires, as images from yesterday afternoon show masked men adding wooden pallets to the stacks at one of these locations.

Eleventh night bonfires There are concerns about safety at some bonfire sites. Source: PA

Sinn Féin has been critical of these controversies, calling the storage of pallets a “disgraceful episode”. The party has also said all dangerous materials should be removed from the four sites covered by the injunction.

However unionists have hit out at Sinn Féin, accusing the party of waging a “cultural war”.

In a joint statement, the DUP and PUP said these parades and bonfires are about “celebrating a momentous victory and a key part of the narrative around our contribution to our national history”.

“In recent weeks there has been a clear strategy to rewrite this narrative and to discredit the celebrations surrounding it. Republicans wish to undo all positive progress, such as the growth of Orangefest and the successes of the bonfire programme.

We must not let our unity of purpose be disrupted or harmed by the actions of those who want to devalue and demean us,” they said.

Eleventh night bonfires There is anger among unionists about interference with the bonfires this year. Source: PA

“This attempt at cultural dictation must not be accepted. Instead, we must work together for a cultural renewal that includes input from the parading organisations, bands, community organisations and bonfire groups.”

Read: ‘A disgraceful episode’: Belfast Council to investigate controversial bonfire pallets storage>

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