Bishop condemns sign mocking death of victims' campaigner's father
A Church of Ireland bishop has said a sign mocking the death of a victims' campaigner's father in Northern Ireland erected on a republican bonfire in Co Down is "inhumane".
Willie Frazer's father Bertie was a part-time Ulster Defence Regiment soldier who was killed by the IRA in 1975.
A sign which read: "Willie Frazer have you found your daddy yet?" was placed atop the pyre in Newry on Wednesday.
Mr Frazer said: "This shows the mentality of these mindless, uneducated, entrenched individuals.
"These people are unwilling to move forward, their only aim is to provoke and spread their hate-filled agenda."
The bonfire was built to mark the anniversary of internment without trial in parts of Northern Ireland during the conflict.
Mr Frazer added: "I am well used to this type of mindless bigotry, as are the families of the victims we represent, daily we take abuse, be it over the phone or in the street.
"These people have no history, no culture, nothing to be proud of, so they cling on to the glorification of murder. It's more to be pitied."
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said it was "disgusting and should be condemned."
Church of Ireland bishop of Down and Dromore Harold Miller said he was deeply saddened.
He added: "It was personalised, shocking and inhumane.
"I know it does not represent the ordinary people of Newry, whom I have experienced as warm, kind, and keen to move in a direction of reconciliation and peace.
"It is important to say that such dehumanising and demeaning messages conveying hate and causing hurt are not acceptable from any part of our society, and I want to add my voice to those who utterly condemn them."
Sinn Fein MP Mickey Brady said such actions were hate crimes and had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with republicanism or the legacy of internment.
He added: "It is anti-republican, and does not celebrate any aspect of Irish national identity or cultural traditions.
"Throughout the North, Sinn Fein has been working with communities to provide positive alternatives to bonfires and the number of them has been greatly reduced as a result.
"The kind of mindless, hate-filled displays on the Newry bonfire are further evidence of the need to continue that work."
Nationalist SDLP assembly member Justin McNulty said those responsible should be ashamed.
"In 2018 there can be no tolerance for such hate in our society.
"The SDLP's message is clear, these actions do not reflect the true meaning of what it means to be an Irish republican, and I hope they are widely condemned."