Northern Ireland

Bonfire hut decked in violent, sectarian and Nazi images dismantled

The rear of Lisnasharagh Leisure centre where a bonfire hut was situated which has now been dismantled
The rear of Lisnasharagh Leisure centre where a bonfire hut was situated which has now been dismantled The rear of Lisnasharagh Leisure centre where a bonfire hut was situated which has now been dismantled

A loyalist bonfire builders 'hut of hate' that displayed violent, sectarian and Nazi images has been dismantled.

The hut, which was built at a bonfire site at Lisnasharragh Leisure Centre in east Belfast, is believed to have been removed in recent days.

The pyre is being built close to two modern 4G playing pitches, which cost £300,000 to install, at the £20m leisure centre.

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A hut used by bonfire builders made from pallets at the rear of Lisnasharragh Liesure Centre in east Belfast
A hut used by bonfire builders made from pallets at the rear of Lisnasharragh Liesure Centre in east Belfast A hut used by bonfire builders made from pallets at the rear of Lisnasharragh Liesure Centre in east Belfast

The pyre is being built close to two modern 4G playing pitches, which cost £300,000 to install, at the £20m leisure centre.

Concerns have been raised about safety after it emerged that the hut was decked out in a range of offensive images including a flag depicting a man holding a rocket launcher.

The flag included the words Clonduff Rock Team, which is believed to be a reference to loyalist youths in east Belfast who call themselves Clonduff Rocket Team.

A similar flag has been flown from a lamppost nearby.

Bonfire materials and pallets at the rear of Lisnasharragh Liesure Centre in east Belfast
Bonfire materials and pallets at the rear of Lisnasharragh Liesure Centre in east Belfast Bonfire materials and pallets at the rear of Lisnasharragh Liesure Centre in east Belfast

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Other offensive images include a Swastika made from tape stuck to a makeshift wooden table.

The letters 'CRT' have been handwritten on each end of the Nazi symbol.

The hate-filled Nazi display is thought to have been particularly embarrassing to local loyalists who often honour the British armed forces.

A flag dedicated to the 36th (Ulster) Division, which fought against Germany in World War One and was mainly comprised of original UVF members, also hung in the hut just feet away from the Nazi tribute.

The letters UVF have also been etched onto the table.

The letters KAT, 'Kill All Taigs', have been scrawled onto a sofa along with an obscene image.

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Alliance Councillor Michael Long at the partys office on the Newtownards Road where graffiti was sprayed overnight. PIcture Mal McCann
Alliance Councillor Michael Long at the partys office on the Newtownards Road where graffiti was sprayed overnight. PIcture Mal McCann Alliance Councillor Michael Long at the partys office on the Newtownards Road where graffiti was sprayed overnight. PIcture Mal McCann

An office linked to the Alliance Party was targeted in a graffiti attack after Belfast councillor Michael Long raised concerns about the display at the bonfire.

The message read: "F*** The Irish News" and was signed CRT - believed to be a reference to Clonduff Rocket Team.

Mr Long, who later said he will not be intimidated, has welcomed the removal of the hut.

"I am pleased they have, maybe, listened to the views of local residents and local representatives who felt this was unacceptable.

"This is a positive step that they have removed it," he said.

Belfast councillor Séamas de Faoite. Picture by Hugh Russell.
Belfast councillor Séamas de Faoite. Picture by Hugh Russell. Belfast councillor Séamas de Faoite. Picture by Hugh Russell.

SDLP councillor Séamas de Faoite said:  “I’ve been appalled at the attacks on my fellow Lisnasharragh elected representatives over the weekend and at the attempts by loyalist social media trolls to excuse or defend the presence symbols of paramilitarism and Nazism.

"In 2023 no-one can claim ignorance about what these symbols and support for them means.

"These demonstrations of hate cannot continue on council property, which is why I am open to exploring and engaging in a new approach to bonfires across Belfast."

Both the DUP and UUP were contacted but did not respond.

Bonfire materials and pallets at the rear of Lisnasharragh Liesure Centre in east Belfast
Bonfire materials and pallets at the rear of Lisnasharragh Liesure Centre in east Belfast Bonfire materials and pallets at the rear of Lisnasharragh Liesure Centre in east Belfast