Northern Ireland

Newry bonfire's 'disgraceful' display condemned

Some of the signs and flags placed on the Newry bonfire
Image caption Some of the signs and flags placed on the Newry bonfire

Signs mocking members of the security forces who were killed by paramilitaries have been placed on a republican bonfire in Newry.

The bonfire in the Parkhead housing estate references 18 soldiers who died in an IRA bomb attack at Narrow Water, Warrenpoint, in August 1979.

The signs also refer to a policeman and prison officer who were murdered by dissident republicans.

The MP for Newry and Armagh, Mickey Brady, described it as a hate crime.

The Sinn Féin MP said the display "has nothing whatsoever to do with the legacy of internment" and that it brought "huge dismay and great disgrace to Newry".

Signs on the bonfire named Constable Stephen Carroll and prison officer David Black, who were shot dead in separate attacks by dissident republicans.

'Further hurt'

The signs also contain sectarian slogans and mock the recently deceased victims' campaigner Willie Frazer, whose father was murdered by the IRA.

David Black's son, who became a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor earlier this year, expressed his disgust.

"Absolutely sickened to see my dad's name on a bonfire again tonight in Newry, along with Constable Stephen Carroll and Willy Frazer," Kyle Black tweeted.

"I will never understand the mentality of those who seek to cause further hurt by placing the names of our loved ones on a bonfire."

'Completely unacceptable'

In addition to the signs, the Parkhead bonfire builders placed union flags the flag of the Parachute Regiment on the pyre.

Ulster Unionist councillor David Taylor, who has reported the matter to police, said the display was "disgraceful".

"The Frazer, Black and Carroll families and the families of the Narrow Water victims have suffered greatly at the evil hands of republican terrorism and it is completely unacceptable that they should have to tolerate this despicable behaviour," the councillor said.

The bonfire was also criticised by DUP leader Arlene Foster, who said it was "sick".

Victims group the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) said the bonfire "highlights intransigence, bigotry and lack of intelligence".

Bonfires are lit in some republican areas in early August to mark the anniversary of the introduction of internment - or detention without trial - on 9 August 1971.

In Belfast earlier, three police officers were injured after trouble flared at the site of an anti-internment bonfire in New Lodge.

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