The loyalist community must restore the far reaching “reputational damage” caused by the small number of negative incidents during the Twelfth celebrations, the deputy leader of the PUP has said.
John Kyle, who is the chair of the good relations partnership on Belfast City Council, said all interested parties need to sit down and discuss the way forward for loyalist culture.
We are playing into the hands of our critics and our enemies if we ignore the problemsPUP deputy leader John Kyle
Councillor Kyle was commenting after images of rioting and dangerous bonfires were broadcast around the world.
“We need to discuss the things we are proud of and what worked well, but we also need to be self-critical and say what things can be improved or need to be changed. Part of the difficulty is, that when you begin to have these conversations, people feel that you are trying to eliminate loyalist culture and that their culture is under threat. But we need to sit down in a calm and reflective way to see how we can build on the good and progess things in a constructive way.”
Cllr Kyle said he believed there was an appetite for discussion. “There was a lot that was very good over the Twelfth – some great bonfires and great community celebrations – but there were also some highly publicised difficulties. Nobody wants to get rid of loyalist culture, we want to build on the successes and to make it better. We are playing into the hands of our critics and our enemies if we ignore the problems.”
Cllr Kyle also highlighted the large number of bonfires that have moved in recent years to become more environmentally friendly and effigy-free, and added: “I think loyalism suffered some reputational damage over this year’s Twelfth, but the communities themselves must propose solutions that are not imposed by the government or statutory agencies.”