Presbyterian moderator defends ‘toxic bonfire’ comments

The Rt. Reverend Dr Frank Sellar

The Rt. Reverend Dr Frank Sellar

The Presbyterian moderator has said people will thank him for “speaking the truth” after he branded bonfires a health hazard and a barrier to a more inclusive society.

In a speech at the University of Ulster on Thursday night, Dr Frank Sellar said: “They are not bonfires fuelled by inclusiveness, respect and healing, but a means by which we pass on to succeeding generations the sins of our fathers.”

During the lecture, entitled ‘A City of Hope, Leadership & Compassion,’ Dr Sellar added: “Dotted over this city at certain times of year in both communities are Bonfires, which give off the toxic fumes of heat rather than light.

“Given our history and fortress mind-sets, while celebrating and commemorating the past divisively, they are also a danger to the environment, property and human well-being.”

Clarifying his remarks on the Nolan radio show on Friday morning, the moderator said it was important his comments were take in context.

“I am not against bonfires,” he said.

“But we all know there are different ways of doing things. There is the possibility of inclusiveness and respect and healing.

“I want to pass on to my children a better way, a more positive way, a shared future. I want respectfulness and I want inclusively for the next generation.”