PSNI 'aware' of Mary statue on bonfire pics

Published Wednesday, 09 July 2014
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Police have said they are "aware" of claims that a statue of the Virgin Mary was placed on a bonfire in the Shankill area of Belfast and are investigating.

PSNI 'aware' of Mary statue on bonfire pics
The bonfire is one of the largest in Northern Ireland. (© Pacemaker)

Pictures have been circulating of a statue placed on the Lanark Way bonfire on social media sites.

However, UTV visited the west Belfast location on Wednesday afternoon and there was no sign of any Holy figures placed on the huge structure.

A police spokesman said: "Police are aware of the statue and are making enquiries."

Sinn Féin have challenged the DUP to condemn the incident.

Belfast Councillor Ciaran Beattie said the statue was stolen from the Cluain Mor area and claims it was later put on the bonfire.

He said: "The theft of this statue must be condemned. To add insult to injury the statue was then pictured on top of a nearby loyalist bonfire at Lanark Way and there are concerns in the local area that it will be burned.

"This theft was clearly designed to heighten tensions in the area."

"I would appeal for someone to have the decency to return this statue safely."

I have been assured by people close to the bonfire construction that no statue has been placed on the bonfire. It has been suggested to me that the photograph actually shows a person at the top of the bonfire, or else has been doctored.

Councillor Brian Kingston DUP

The DUP, however, have questioned if the statue was actually placed on the bonfire.

Councillor Brian Kingston added: "A blurred photograph has appeared on a parody Facebook account along with the claim that it shows a statue on the Lanark Way bonfire.

"I have spoken to senior PSNI officers and local community representatives and no-one has seen this alleged incident occurring.

"This claim appeared on a spoof social media account which should be treated with great scepticism.

"It would seem that the only people taken in by this dubious claim have been Sinn Féin."

He added: "The PSNI have reported the theft of a statue from a memorial in the Springfield Road area.

"I would appeal for the return of that item and for anyone who knows who was responsible for this reported crime to pass that information on to the police without delay."

The bonfire is thought to be one of the largest in all of Northern Ireland.

Last year there was outrage after a statue was placed on the bonfire at the same location ahead of the Eleventh night.

It was removed from the bonfire before it was lit and returned to a local priest.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
7 Comments
G Hegarty in Benburb wrote (13 days ago):
I hope PSNI get to the botom of this
ciaran in poleglass wrote (14 days ago):
No council money, dont promote hate crime.
Co Down in Co Down wrote (14 days ago):
Lost for words as a Christian.
Michael in Templepatrick wrote (15 days ago):
Councillor Brian Kingston of the DUP seems to be taking the word of loyalist bonfire builders as gospel there in his comment... Serious question, will they be burning the union flag on top of the bonfire in that pic?
Paul in Belfast wrote (15 days ago):
This is an absolute joke of a story. In fact it isnt even a story at all! People even getting offended at make believe stories now...sad.
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