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14 Aug 2022

County Derry MLAs hit out as posters placed on bonfires

A number of Derry GAA flags were also placed on the pyres.

County Derry MLA hits out as posters placed on bonfires

An Eleventh Night bonfire bearing the election posters of Cara Hunter MLA, Caoimhe Archibald MLA and Aontú candidate Gemma Brolly.

Two East Derry MLAs have hit out after the placing of flags and election posters on Eleventh Night bonfires.

Caoimhe Archibald posted photographs online of two different pyres - identifying the latter as being in the Harpur's Hill area of Coleraine - on which her own election posters, and that of the SDLP's Cara Hunter and Aontú candidate Gemma Brolly were placed.

The photograph also showed the Irish national flag and a number of Derry GAA flags placed on the stacked pallets in preparation for the lighting of the bonfires tonight.

"The burning of flags & election posters on bonfires is wrong, deeply offensive & a hate crime," said the Sinn Féin representative.

"I’ve reported this to the PSNI. There’s an onus on unionist political & community leaders to stand up against displays of sectarian hatred & make it clear there is no place for them."

Reacting to the same photograph, fellow MLA Cara Hunter branded it a display of 'blatant sectarianism'.

"The normalisation of these types of bonfires is a sad reflection of where we are today," she said.

"It’s about time leaders from the unionist community stepped up and called this out for what it is - blatant sectarianism. It needs to stop."

The PSNI have said they are 'gathering evidence' after a number of complaints were received relating to items placed on bonfires.

"The Police Service has received a number of complaints relating to flags, effigies, election posters and other emblems being placed on bonfires," said a spokesperson.

"We are gathering evidence in respect of these complaints and will review to establish whether offences have been committed."

The condemnation comes as the final preparations get underway for the lighting of the Eleventh Night bonfires later tonight.

Tributes also continue to be paid to bonfire builder John Steele, who died after falling from a bonfire in the Antiville area of Larne on Saturday evening.

Those building the nearby Craigyhill bonfire - who were attempting to break the record for the tallest bonfire ever constructed - hope to dedicate the pyre in memory of the father-of-two.

A post on the official Facebook page of the Craigyhill bonfire, Larne.

Organisers say the bonfire was measured using 'lasers and a drone' and was found to be 202ft tall, four feet taller than the 198ft recorded at Lustenau, Austria in March 2019.

Shortly after measurements were taken, footage emerged of the pyre placed at the top of the bonfire falling to the ground, with organisers later announcing it had been removed 'in a controlled drop' due to 'safety concerns' as the wind picked up.

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