Sinn Fein: Police should act against all bonfire effigies

A bonfire in the nationalist New Lodge estate in north Belfast, with a poster of former UUP MP Danny Kinahan, with eyes crossed out and a line drawn around his neck
A bonfire in the nationalist New Lodge estate in north Belfast, with a poster of former UUP MP Danny Kinahan, with eyes crossed out and a line drawn around his neck
  • Picture of ex-South Antrim MP Danny Kinahan on New Lodge edifice

Sinn Fein has said they would like to see the police bringing about prosecutions for anyone burning effigies at bonfires regardless of where they are located.

The statement comes after the party became aware of a poster of former UUP MP Danny Kinahan on a bonfire in the New Lodge area of Belfast.

The previous day Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill had held a meeting with the PSNI chief constable at which she discussed issues surrounding bonfires.

Following the meeting with George Hamilton she said: “Hate crime is something that can not be tolerated in society and it is something that needs to be stamped out.

“We all have a role to play but I asked the chief constable today what action they were taking in relation to hate crime and some of the effigies we saw displayed.”

News that Mr Kinahan’s poster had been placed on an anti-internment bonfire came after Ms O’Neill’s statement.

The Ulster Unionist Party said on Twitter: “Disturbing to see Danny Kinahan’s poster placed on New Lodge bonfire. No place for such hatred in Northern Ireland.”

The News Letter asked Sinn Fein if the party would welcome prosecutions relating to effigies and posters on republican bonfires such as that of Mr Kinahan.

A Sinn Fein spokesperson said there was “no equivocation” on its position on bonfires, adding the party would welcome prosecution for anyone perpetrating a hate crime.

The spokesperson reiterated Ms O’Neill’s earlier statement, saying: “Sinn Fein condemns the burning of flags, emblems, effigies and posters on bonfires.”

They added: “Such actions are hate crimes and must be eradicated.”

Meanwhile, it is understood that the contractor tasked with removing bonfire materials for Belfast City Council is no longer in place.

The News Letter has viewed an internal email which informed relevant council members that the contractor had withdrawn their services late on Monday night citing “increasing tensions and significant health and safety concerns”.

The circular added that Belfast City Council was “no longer in a position to assist with the removal of any bonfire” adding that “council officers are also not in a position to directly involve themselves in the removal of any bonfire material”.

When asked if its bonfire policy remained intact council issued the following statement: “Belfast City Council does not comment on contractual or operational issues.”