Northern Ireland news

Police investigate 57 potential offences at loyalist bonfires

A 11th night bonfire close to an apartment block in Sandy Row in south Belfast
Rebecca Black, PA

Police are probing almost 60 potential offences reported as having taken place at loyalist bonfires last month.

These reports include allegations of theft and destruction of political material, flags, hate slogans and effigies.

There was widespread condemnation after photographs emerged of hanging effigies of Sinn Féin president and vice-president Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill, as well as Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, on a bonfire in Carrickfergus.

Assistant Chief Constable for Local Policing Bobby Singleton has called for anyone with information about alleged offences to speak to police.

He said: “To date we have received a total of 57 separate reports of potential offences at bonfires over the 11th and 12th of July period.

“Potential offences include the theft and destruction of political material, flags, hate slogans and effigies.

“We have already gathered and secured evidence of potential offending, appointed investigators, commenced inquiries for each of these incidents and engaged with the Public Prosecution Service, who will ultimately have responsibility for decisions in relation to prosecution.

“The vast majority of people celebrate their culture peacefully and lawfully and do not want cultural celebrations to be undermined by anti-social behaviour, criminal activity or hate directed towards others.

“I’m appealing for anyone with any further information but specifically information on those who may have been responsible for the potential offences to provide it to the police to bring those responsible to justice.

“Anyone with any information should contact their local neighbourhood policing team on 101, or alternatively information can also be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.”

Northern Ireland news