Unionist defends collapsed Portadown bonfire: ‘SF stirring up tensions’

A unionist politician who was on the scene of a huge bonfire collapse has defended the festivities that evening, after Sinn Fein claimed it was a “miracle” no-one had died.

Sunday, 11th July 2021, 2:40 pm

The bonfire was in the Edgarstown estate in Portadown and was lit on Friday night.

It is seperate to the Corcrain estate bonfire nearby in Portadown, which was similarly massive and was lit on Saturday night.

Videos of the Edgarstown celebrations show a large crowd standing in a circle some metres from the fire.

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The bonfire began to list, the crowd swept back, and it came crashing down, with its top landing on a road.

Afterwards Sinn Fein’s press office issued a statement saying “it is a miracle no one was killed or seriously injured”.

It added: “Nearby residents, drivers and homes were placed in serious danger as this bonfire came crashing down on to a main road.

“It’s long past time the PSNI, Housing Executive and other agencies took their responsibilities seriously and act to remove these dangerous bonfires before someone is killed.”

Darryn Causby, a unionist councillor for the area who recently quit the DUP and now sits as an independent, said he witnessed everything “with my own eyes”.

“It wasn’t a near-death moment at all,” he said.

“Organisers, as far as I could see, had moved people away and had also asked people who had parked close by to move as well.

“It looks more dramatic than it actually was.

“What we’ve got is a situation where Sinn Fein is very disappointed that the evening was family-friendly, that is was peaceful, jovial, and all of those things.”

He questioned the party’s expressions of concern about the safety of loyalists, given the history of the republican movement, and said Sinn Fein’s statement was a bid to “trying to ratchet up tensions” with a view to winning an election in May.

“It’s Sinn Fein’s attempt to create contention where there is none,” he said.

“They need to dial it down.”

As for the party’s complaints about the use of public land for bonfires, he said: “They’d do well to take their own advice and look at all the illegal IRA monuments and shrines to IRA terrorists, who murdered and maimed people across this country for 40 years, erected on public land.

“I’ll take no lectures from them.”

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