DUP responds after councilors pose at tricolor- burning bonfire

Posted By: July 04, 2019


Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus
On this Fourth of July, all Americans should agree with the motto of the Irish National Caucus:“Ireland, too, has the right to be One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Sadly, however,  today’s Irish News of Belfast carries the story about a DUP politician proudly posing before a burning Orange bonfire bedecked with an Irish flag.
Historically, the Orange Order has used the month of July to begin a series of marches to manifest Orange supremacy and British rule. Within the more extreme elements of the Orange Order, there has always been a deep anti-Irish racism combined with a vicious anti-Catholicism—both pathologies often expressed by the  Irish flag and Catholic symbols being burned on Orange bonfires. 
In this story, the DUP politician tries to justify her presence at such a hate-filled, racist bonfire by claiming she did not attend the bonfire in her official role but in her personal capacity—like a Member of Congress saying he attended a White Supremacy meeting not as a Member of Congress but as a private individual….This is no way to build up the Beloved Community in The North/Northern Ireland.
A few misguided Irish-Americans have tried to tell me not to mention the significant racist (anti-Irish), and sectarian (anti-Catholic) element in Northern Ireland, but that is to know nothing about English and Irish history. Both evils have been used by England (since The English Reformation) to control and oppress Ireland.(Before the English Reformation—when England was super Catholic— England just used plain old anti-Irish racism).—Fr. Sean McManus

Brendan Hughes. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, July 4, 2019

A DUP councilor couple has been criticized after posing for a photo beside a burning bonfire with an Irish tricolor on top.

Margaret Tinsley and her husband James Tinsley were photographed beside the Edenderry bonfire in Portadown, Co Armagh.

Mrs. Tinsley is deputy lord mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon council, while her husband is a Lisburn and Castlereagh councilor.

Posting pictures on Facebook, Mrs. Tinsley wrote: “Brilliant bonfire. Well done to all the volunteers. Always a great start to the July celebrations.”

The images appear to show a tricolor on top of the burning structure.
Sinn Féin Lurgan area councilor Keith Haughian described it as “absolutely unacceptable”.

“The deputy mayor is supposed to represent everyone in the borough, but glorifying this type of activity is deeply offensive to large sections of our society,” he said.

“Burning of flags, posters and effigies on bonfires is wrong and have been rightly described by the PSNI as hate crimes.”

SDLP Lisburn councilor Johnny McCarthy said it was “incredibly disappointing” and called for an apology.

“When we’re trying to build a united community in Lisburn, all public representatives need to be mindful of their actions and the message it sends to all the people living in our city,” he said.

“There is no instance where it’s okay to celebrate as a flag that represents people here is burned.”

In a statement, a DUP spokeswoman said Mrs. Tinsley was not attending the event in her capacity as deputy mayor.

“Councilor Margaret Tinsley attended the events in her own capacity and not as deputy mayor for Armagh, Banbridge, and Craigavon, with Alderman James Tinsley,” she said.

“The DUP has been clear in the past that culture is not the burning of flags or posters.

“Sinn Féin are not in the position to lecture when it comes to commemorative events within their own community.

“Respect for each other’s culture works both ways. Both communities should work to express culture in a dignified way.”

It is not the first time DUP representatives have faced criticism over pictures while attending bonfire events in the run-up to the Twelfth.

The DUP’s Edwin Poots took a selfie, right, at Ballymacash bonfire which had been bedecked in tricolors

In 2016, DUP MLA Edwin Poots took a selfie beside a blazing bonfire in Lisburn that had earlier been bedecked in tricolors.

The former health minister said at the time he “really couldn’t care less” about criticism over his attendance.

DUP MLA Paul Givan was also criticized in 2016 after being pictured lighting a bonfire while he was Stormont communities minister.

Emails uncovered by The Irish News later revealed a senior Stormont environmental official said Mr. Givan’s actions in Co Tyrone were considered “an offense”.

Environment Agency staff investigated and Mr. Givan was given “advice” as part of a “proportional response”.

In the same year, then Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan apologized after posing for a photo beside a bonfire while it bore a tricolor.

He said the flag was removed from the pyre before it was lit.

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