DUP leader condemns burning of Tricolour flags on ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfires

A bonfire in the loyalist Tiger’s Bay area of north Belfast was ignited with an Irish tricolour flag on top.
DUP leader condemns burning of Tricolour flags on ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfires

Press Association

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has condemned the burning of Irish tricolour flags on a number of “Eleventh Night” bonfires in the North.

More than 230 bonfires were lit across Northern Ireland between Friday and Sunday nights.

The bonfires precede the Twelfth of July parades, the main date in the Protestant loyal order parading season.

These included the contentious bonfire at Adam Street in the loyalist Tiger’s Bay area of north Belfast, which is adjacent to the nationalist New Lodge area.

BRITAIN-N.IRELAND-BONFIRE-HISTORY A bonfire built from over 15,000 pallets sits on the Craigyhill estate in Larne, Co Antrim. Photo: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty

The bonfire had attracted controversy as nationalist and republican politicians had claimed that the homes of New Lodge residents had come under attack from bonfire builders.

But unionist politicians rejected this, stating the bonfire was a legitimate expression of their culture, and accused nationalist political leaders of raising tensions.

The bonfire was ignited with an Irish tricolour flag on top.

Mr Donaldson told the BBC: “I don’t want to see election posters or flags burnt on bonfires. I think we can celebrate our culture and our tradition in a respectful way.

“Respect is a two-way street; if you want to gain respect for your traditions and culture you’ve got to show respect for the traditions, culture and symbols of other communities.”

Northern Ireland's Largest Eleventh Night Bonfire Towers Above Larne A young boy climbs the children's bonfire within the Craigyhill estate in Larne, Co Antrim. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty

Mr Donaldson said work needed to continue to address safety issues around the size of some bonfires.

“I think we need to continue working with those who organise bonfires to look at safety issues and to look at the height of bonfires, where they are located. In the end, public safety is absolutely paramount when it comes to this.”

Emergency calls

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said it dealt with a “significant increase” in emergency calls to bonfire-related incidents this year.

While the NIFRS said it was “exceptionally busy” over the weekend, it also confirmed there were no attacks on fire service personnel.

The NIFRS said firefighters had been required to take direct action to protect properties from heat caused by bonfires.

Portadown Eleventh Night Bonfire Is Lit Ahead Of July Twelfth Celebrations A loyalist celebrates with a Union Jack flag at a bonfire in Portadown, Co Armagh. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty

A spokesman said: “Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service has dealt with a significant increase in emergency calls and mobilisations to bonfire related incidents over July 9, 10 and 11 July.”

Between 6pm on Friday night and 2am on Saturday morning the service received 54 calls and was sent to 40 incidents, including seven bonfire-related incidents.

Between 6pm on Saturday night and 2am on Sunday morning it received 171 calls and was sent to 99 incidents, including 34 bonfire-related incidents.

The same figures for 6pm on Sunday to 2am on Monday were 153 calls, 150 mobilisations of which 40 were bonfire-related.

This means that over the weekend there were a total of 378 calls and 244 mobilisations, 81 dealing with bonfire incidents.

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