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The bonfire was lit in the Bogside area of Derry last night PA
bonfires

NI leaders condemn burning of British and Israeli flags in Derry bonfire

The PSNI have launched a hate crime investigation into the bonfire.

A REPUBLICAN BONFIRE that was covered in Union Jacks, poppy wreaths and an Israeli flag has been condemned by political leaders across the island of Ireland.

The bonfire, which was located in the Bogside estate in Derry, was burned last night and has been widely condemned, with SDLP leader Colum Eastwood describing the scene as “totally out of order”.

“Why do they need to mimic the worst elements of loyalist culture?,” said Eastwood in a tweet.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson called the bonfire “an outrageous and offensive display of hate” and said it should be “universally rejected”.

Naomi Long, the leader of the Alliance Party, said that the burning of sectarian bonfires in both July and August has been exhausting.

“The last few months have been an exhausting spectacle of hatred, bigotry and of poking each other in the eye,” Long said in a tweet.

“Whether you aspire to a united Ireland or remaining in the United Kingdom, building a united community is fundamental to a better future. This is not how to build it.”

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly labelled the bonfires as disgraceful, saying that there was “no place for these displays of hate anywhere in our society”.

“The burning of flags, wreaths and posters which include politicians and other political figures is deeply offensive and is a hate crime,” Kelly said.

UUP leader Doug Beattie was critical of those who were silent on yesterday’s bonfire, but who complained about unionist bonfires on 12 July.

“And so it continues…… complaints about bonfires in July from some quarters, silence in August from the same quarters. This can never be right,” Beattie tweeted.

Ógra Shinn Féin have also issued a tweet condemning the bonfire with a quote from Martin McGuinness: “I am so confident in my Irishness that I have no desire to chip away at the Britishness of my neighbours.”

“I am so confident in my Irishness that I have no desire to chip away at the Britishness of my neighbours.”

- An tÓglach Martin McGuinness pic.twitter.com/DiV7mKzCG8

— Ógra Shinn Féin (@Ogra_SF) August 16, 2022

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney also condemned the bonfire, saying that it was an “insult” to the efforts of people working towards reconciliation.

“Whether in July or August, this kind of hatred is so far from the future we should be trying to build,” Coveney said.

“To all volunteers, community workers, youth orgs. & others working for reconciliation & respect, this is an insult to your efforts. We will work harder with you for peace.”

embedded268339406 A closeup showing an Israeli flag, poppy wreaths and Union Jacks being burned on the bonfire PA PA

The bonfire is also being investigated by the PSNI as a hate crime.

In a statement this morning, Derry City and Strabane Superintendent Willy Calderwood said that the PSNI had received reports over the burning of material on the bonfire.

“These reports are being treated as hate crimes and we are seeking to identify those responsible,” Calderwood said.

“Potential offences include the theft and destruction of political material, flags, banners, hate slogans and poppy wreaths.

“As part of our enquiries, we have gathered and secured evidence of potential offending and we will engage with the Public Prosecution Service who will ultimately have responsibility for decisions in relation to prosecution.

The PSNI are investigating reports of gunshots heard at 11.20pm last night.

“Enquiries continue to establish exactly what occurred and to confirm if any shots were fired,” a statement read.

Calderwood added that the “vast majority” of people celebrate their culture peacefully and that people don’t want celebrations to be interrupted by anti-social behaviour or criminality.

The PSNI has issued an appeal for information, particularly for those who were responsible for the potential offences.

“Anyone with any information should contact their local neighbourhood policing team on 101 or alternatively, information can also be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org,” said a spokesperson for the PSNI.

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