ISIS flags and effigies of Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Bobby Sands placed on July 11 pyres
Published 13/07/2015 | 13:03
An Islamic State flag joined effigies of Bobby Sands and Gerry Adams and election posters on loyalist bonfires as thousands gathered at sites throughout Northern Ireland ahead of the July 12 parades.
The Islamic State flag was fixed to the bonfire in Ballysillan, north Belfast, which was also covered with Sinn Fein and SDLP election posters, including one with a sex toy stuck to it.
In the Ballycraigy housing estate in Antrim, a US Confederate flag emblazoned with “LVF” was on display.
The same bonfire also had a coffin with an effigy of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands inside flanked by figures of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
A sign with the logo of the Ballycraigy Bonfire Kings with KAT — Kill All Taigs — written on it and flanked by images of two masked gunmen also appeared on the huge tower of pallets.
In Moygashel, County Tyrone, an effigy of former Sinn Féin MP Michelle Gildernew was spotted tied to a bonfire with a sign saying: "Sinn Féin Scum, hands off our culture. Public hanging 10.30pm".
The image appeared on the Facebook page of the Moygashel Sons of Ulster flute band.
In a statement, Ms Gildernew branded the effigy a "hate crime" and said incidents like this should be rigorously investigated by the PSNI.
"With that kind of leadership is it any wonder that these Neanderthals think this type of insult is part of their culture," she said.
"The Orange Order also claims that bonfires are an important part of protestant culture and should be welcoming to families. How can these displays of naked sectarianism be welcoming to anyone?"
She added that if the Orange Order were sincere about wanting nationalists to respect their culture, then they need to “come out unambiguously in their condemnation of these hate crimes by assisting the PSNI in identifying those responsible”.
One of the largest bonfires this year was erected in the New Mossley estate in Newtownabbey.
The massive tower, adorned with Irish tricolours, rose over 100 feet into the air, dwarfing the surrounding houses.
It was a simpler affair in the Shankill estate in Belfast which opted for a plain tower of wooden pallets decorated with a banner which read “Lower Shankill Supports Loyalist Ardoyne” flanked by two UDA flags.
A bonfire built in the council-owned Alderman Tommy Patton Park in Holywood, Co Down was covered in Irish tricolours and other symbolic Irish republican flags.