Northern Ireland news

Burning of tricolour on Newtownards bonfire 'blatant sectarianism'

The tricolour on the bonfire at Portaferry Road in Newtownards

THE burning of a large tricolour on a Co Down bonfire has been branded "blatant sectarianism".

A misshapen version of the flag was placed on the bonfire on Portaferry Road in Newtownards.

A caller to The Irish News estimated that the flag, which was hung incorrectly, "must be 20ft high".

The man, who said he was a Protestant said he was "appalled" by the display.

“This is not Protestant culture," he said.

"It’s blatant sectarianism. It does not represent the views of decent Protestants in the town."

He added: "What is happening to this country?"

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Meanwhile, houses and flats in the Harpur's Hill area of Coleraine, Co Derry, were boarded up before an Eleventh Night bonfire was lit last night.

Sinn Féin East Derry MLA Caoimhe Archibald said the homes had to be protected "due to the size and proximity of the bonfire to residences".

"This is an unacceptable situation; the statutory agencies have a responsibility but so to do community and political leaders to ensure that bonfires don’t put lives, properly or the environment at risk," she said.

"Where there is experience of good practice that should be encouraged along with good engagement with the local community.

"We need to move towards an effective regulated framework for bonfires which enables cultural expressions to take place in a legal, respectful and safe manner that does not threaten people or property, and without any displays of hate all too often seen."

Ms Archibald said several bonfires in her constituency had a "large number of tyres on them and efforts to remove these have been unsuccessful".

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