Northern Ireland

Bonfire insult to Ballymurphy victims

The bonfire in Highfield estate 
The bonfire in Highfield estate 

There have been calls for the removal from a west Belfast bonfire of an offensive banner referencing the killing of 11 civilians.

The eleventh night bonfire in the loyalist Highfield estate yesterday had a bed sheet bearing the slogan 'F*** your Ballymurphy massacre inquiry'.

The banner was referencing long-standing calls for an inquiry into the 1971 killing of 11 civilians, including a priest.

Also attached to the same bonfire are election posters for SDLP councillor Tim Attwood, alongside Isis imagery, tricolours and 'KAT' (kill all taigs) banners.

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said he had reported the offensive material to the police, characterising it as a hate crime.

The Sinn Féin representative called for police to remove banners and posters or for political and community leaders to use their influence to ensure the offensive slogans were removed.

He said the banner referencing the Ballymurphy massacre was "deeply insulting and hurtful" to the families involved.

“I have reported the display of the banner on the Highfield bonfire, which reads ‘F your Ballymurphy Massacre Inquiry’ and Kill all Taigs’, as a hate crime to the PSNI.

"There can be no place either for the display of naked sectarianism which advocates the killing of anyone of this society or for the burning of election posters and national flags," he said.

Mr Attwood said he was appalled at the "vile sectarian material about the Ballymurphy Massacre".

"There can be no place in our community for racist or sectarian graffiti or the burning of political posters,” he said.

"The comments about the Ballymurphy Massacre Families are all the more vicious given recent claims that the UVF may have been responsible for some of the deaths – this is a hate-crime against the families and action must be taken immediately to remove these offensive materials."

Across the city in Avoniel in east Belfast, similarly offensive messages appeared on an eleventh night bonfire.

In addition to 'KAT', the graffiti artists also targeted the council and the PSNI.