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Election posters and Vatican flags burn on bonfires

The Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn, one of the biggest outside Belfast. Picture by Cliff Donaldson
The Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn, one of the biggest outside Belfast. Picture by Cliff Donaldson The Ballymacash bonfire in Lisburn, one of the biggest outside Belfast. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance elections posters and flags of the Vatican and Islamic State were set alight on loyalist bonfires across the north at the weekend.

Images of several high-profile republicans, including an effigy of Bobby Sands in a coffin, were burned on the Ballycraigy bonfire in Antrim town.

A US Confederate flag with the LVF logo and a sign saying "KAT" (Kill All Taigs) were also erected on the pyre.

Meanwhile, an Islamic State flag and Sinn Fein and SDLP posters, including one with a sex toy attached, were on display in Ballysillan in north Belfast.

While some bonfires were lit on Saturday night – the Eleventh night – other unionist areas, such as Rathcoole and Sandy Row in Belfast, were preparing to mark the occasion last night, ahead of this morning’s Twelfth parades.

Some mini-bonfires lit on Saturday caused visible scorch damage to sections of the Crumlin Road, Donegall Road and Cluan Place in Belfast.

The Fire Service said it dealt with 29 bonfire-related calls on Saturday night, 12 of which needed intervention from crews.

A spokesman said: "It is likely that reduced call numbers were due to the fact that the 11th of July this year fell on Saturday and a number of bonfires may have been held over to be ignited on the evening of Sunday 12th July. Thankfully there were no reports of any crews being attacked during the evening."

However, East Belfast Alliance councillor Michael Long hit out at the burning of flags and election posters, including one of his wife Naomi, as "neither respectful nor tolerant".

He said: "Alliance has no issue with anyone celebrating their culture in a respectful and tolerant manner. However, placing Alliance posters on bonfires, as happened in east Belfast and east Antrim among other locations, as well as those from other parties and national flags, is neither respectful nor tolerant."

"We will be reporting this to the PSNI and asking the various councils to investigate whether any supported bonfires breached guidelines by the presence of flags or posters."

Meanwhile, police are investigating the theft of Union flags from the Diamond area of Kilrea in the early hours of yesterday.

Police received a report just after 3am that four flags had been removed and four flag poles damaged.

Inspector Mick Wood appealed for information.