The son of a murdered prison officer says he is “sickened” to see his father’s name placed on a republican bonfire in Newry.
Kyle Black, whose father David was shot dead by the ‘New IRA’ in 2012 as he drove to work at Maghaberry, said such provocation causes further hurt.
In a Twitter message on Thursday night, Mr Black said: “Absolutely sickened to see my Dad’s name on a bonfire again tonight in Newry, along with Constable Stephen Carroll and Willy Frazer.
“I will never understand the mentality of those who seek to cause further hurt by placing the names of our loved ones on a bonfire.”
As well as referencing the murders of police, prison officers and soldiers, the bonfire in the Carnagat area of the city is adorned with unionist emblems and a Parachute Regiment flag.
The actions of those responsible for the bonfire have been widely condemned.
DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted: “This is really sick. My heart goes out to the families who are impacted by this tower of hate. Those who built it evidently have a lot of bitterness and hatred in their hearts.
“It stands in contrast to the dignity and grace of the innocent victims who today sit with empty chairs.”
Her party colleague Sir Jeffrey Donaldson posted a public online message to Kyle Black, saying: “Thank you for your dignity in the face of such provocation & hurt. We really do need to find new ways of dealing with our troubled past. Poking each other in the eye and compounding the grief of victims is not the way to a shared future with respect & reconciliation.”
Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor has reported the bonfire to the PSNI as a potential hate crime.
He said: “The Frazer, Black and Carroll families and the families of the Narrow Water victims have suffered greatly at the evil hands of republican terrorism and it is completely unacceptable that they should have to tolerate this despicable behaviour.
“It is all the more reprehensible and despicable that the Frazer family have to contend with this as they continue to mourn the recent loss of William.”
A number of victims’ representatives have also condemned those responsible.
Bessbrook based SEFF victims advocate Alan Lewis said: “This bonfire highlights intransigence, bigotry and lack of intelligence. Those who think they are celebrating anything by this type of vulgar display of sectarian hatred need an education in history, followed by a lesson in decorum”.
SEFF’s director of services Kenny Donaldson concluded by challenging those responsible, as well as those who would support their actions, to end the “psychological terrorisation of victims, whether it be directed against the Frazer family or other families”.
Mr Donaldson added: “The images and messages on the bonfire are designed to hurt and to intimidate, those responsible are not interested in culture and nor are they interested in promoting a political ideology and message which supports inclusion and tolerance for difference”.
Sinn Fein MP Mickey Brady has also hit out at the bonfire builders.
“Sinn Fein condemn the burning of flags, emblems, effigies and posters on bonfires. Such actions are hate crimes and must be eradicated,” he said.
“The vast majority of the community is opposed to bonfire and associated display of hate and anti social behaviour.
“This bonfire has nothing whatsoever to do with the legacy of internment. It does not celebrate any aspect of Irish national identity or culture.”
Mr Brady added: “This Bonfire is not republican, it is not about politics or culture. It is about hate and is anti-community and anti-social.
“It also has brought further pain and suffering to bereaved families.”