Tricolours 'burned on half of bonfires'

Published Thursday, 14 November 2013
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Tricolours or nationalist emblems were burned at almost half of loyalist bonfire sites this year, according to a Belfast City Council report.

Tricolours 'burned on half of bonfires'
Bonfires were lit across Northern Ireland as part of 12 July celebrations. (© Presseye)

It comes despite a £200,000 scheme aimed at making such events on both sides of the community more positive cultural expressions.

Last summer, one bonfire on the Lower Shankill in west Belfast was lit after being adorned with three tricolours and a Palestinian flag.

Ian McLaughlin, from the Lower Shankill Community Association, said: "The flags appeared on the bonfire in a short period of hours prior to the bonfire being lit.

"I have to say I am disappointed, but I am also not surprised and, to be perfectly honest, I believe that we succeeded in our overall goal, we brought over 800 people together in Lower Shankill on that day. We had a huge community festival."

The money spent by the council was issued to community groups who had to agree that flags or emblems would not be burned. But at half of these events the opposite happened.

Nevertheless, Belfast City Council insists the programme is paying dividends

Máire Hendron, who chairs the council's Good Relations Partnership, said: "The program has been a success over the years - year on year it has improved.

"The report from the police and the Fire Service indicate that the July just passed has been the most successful year of this program. They had fewer call outs. There are always people who will do this sort of thing, but we have plans in the future that will not be tolerated."

Sinn Féin has raised concerns about the programme and said regulations are being flouted without consequence, while the DUP believes much progress has been made.

In the Short Strand in east Belfast, community workers said bonfires in neighbouring communities present them with real problems.

Patricia Johnson, of the Short Strand Partnership, said: "I think it is time to move on - celebrate your culture by all means but not in a way that will harm other people."

Meanwhile, the council is promising sanctions for those who flout their rules next year.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Iain in Belfast wrote (158 days ago):
As per usual it seems about 99.9% of people here posting "don't get it". Whah, whah whah they did this....they did that. Is it any wonder there is so much division when everyone takes such a defensive attitude. No, do what you want, it's ok. The other lot do it too so that's all the justification you need. Idiots.
wayne in monkstown wrote (159 days ago):
@sammy1699...well said. as usual one sided news
Tom in Down wrote (159 days ago):
So much hate on this page about the Irish flag, it really is sad and I don't mean this in a naive way. I respect the Union flag - even though I'm not British. I certainly wouldn't burn it and I cannot understand why celebration of the Twelfth has to be associated with diminishing and destroying the symbols of other communities. It doesn't need to be and it shouldn't be. If it's genuinely about celebrating the British community in Ireland's culture and traditions then so be up but do that in a positive way, not by burning the flags of Ireland (or Poland for that matter too!).
chris in england wrote (159 days ago):
Well I guess their culture is all about opposing ours. Walking through our areas, etc...if they didn't have us they wouldn't have a so called culture. Whereas our culture is so thriving and strong it requires no reaction to another culture. Yet another own goal by the loyalists. Our day surely has come and its great to see it emerging. :-)
Elizabeth W in London wrote (159 days ago):
Can someone please, please enlighten me. PUL 'culture', I mean, what is it exactly? Oh and, how come it's clearly ALWAYS those with seemingly little or no education and absolutely no grasp on what the definition of culture is, are always the very ones claiming that 'theirs' is being eroded?
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