Unionists criticized over bonfire displays

Posted By: March 02, 2016

“Burning in effigy of a Catholic politician at an Orange Bonfire in Northern Ireland is entirely equivalent to hanging in effigy a Black man in the United States.
Today— even in the most racist part of the United States— it’s impossible even to imagine that any government body would fund the burning in effigy of a Black man… Yet in today’s Northern Ireland, burning in effigy of Catholic leaders is not only acceptable in certain Protestant sections, it is even funded by local government!
And yet the Belfast Telegraph recently falsely accused me of lying  because our INC animated Internet Video states that a certain section of the Protestant/Unionist community has never accepted Catholics as equal.” [ The video is available at IrishNationalCaucus.org]
— Fr. Sean Mc Manus, President, Irish National Caucus.

Unionists criticized over bonfire displays
Brendan Hughes. Irish News (Belfast). Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Offensive materials: Effigies of Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Bobby Sands on the Ballycraigy bonfire in 2015
UNIONISTS are facing criticism for blocking council proposals to withdraw funding over loyalist bonfires that use racist and sectarian displays.
The move follows months of controversy over ratepayers’ cash awarded to groups organising Eleventh Night bonfires.
The Irish News last year that revealed thousands of pounds were given to an Antrim group whose bonfire was at the centre of a hate crime investigation.
The notorious Ballycraigy estate bonfire made global headlines in 2014 for its sectarian displays including an effigy of a hanged Gerry Adams.
In January a 19-year-old man was convicted over a racist display at the pyre in a landmark prosecution.
In the past four years more than £110,000 has been given to Antrim-area groups organising Eleventh Night bonfires to fund related family events.
For months Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors have been holding discussions to devise a new funding scheme for 2016.
Councillors voted on two options at a meeting of the unionist-majority council on Monday night.
One option proposed that funding could be withheld for the “burning of any flag, emblem, posters, effigies or any other symbol that may cause offence”.
However, the alternative proposal only imposes funding sanctions for environmental issues such as the burning of tyres.
The second proposal was passed following support from DUP and UUP councillors.
Alliance councillor Billy Webb yesterday hit out at the decision, saying there was “absolutely no logic to it”.
Expressing his disappointment, he said that if councillors believed offensive materials should not be on bonfires “then we should put it in a protocol”.
Ahead of the meeting unionists had raised concerns that it would be difficult for the council to enforce penalties for offensive bonfire displays.
Mark Cosgrove, the UUP’s group leader, had said he believes “any issues of sectarianism or racism involved in any public event is the responsibility of the police”.