Derry bonfire with names of murdered policemen condemned

Sinn Féin say the ‘display of hate’ had ‘nothing whatsoever to do with republicanism’

A bonfire lit in Derry that was emblazoned with the names of murdered police and prison officers has been met with widespread condemnation.

The bonfire, in the Bogside area of the city, included the names of Ronan Kerr, David Black, Stephen Carroll and Adrian Ismay, who have all been killed because of their profession.

Sinn Féin has condemned the "display of hate," saying it had "absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with republicanism," while DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson decried the "inhumane and pure evil" placing of the men's names on the bonfire.

Kyle Black, whose prison officer father David was killed in a drive-by shooting by dissident republicans in 2012, took to social media and criticised those involved.

He wrote: “Absolutely disgusting! The people responsible for these vile actions have absolutely nothing to offer our society. #somuchforrespectandequality

“My dad, along with the other brave men named, served their community with dignity and respect.

“This in complete contrast to those responsible for this. Absolutely sickened.”

The bonfire was also draped in Union flags, British Army flags, poppy wreaths and a Donald Trump election sign.

Sinn Féin councillor Patricia Logue said "nothing" justified the burning of the bonfire.

“Those responsible for putting poppy wreaths, flags and other hate messages on the bonfire are intent only on causing extreme offence and damaging community relations,” she said in a statement.

“This is nothing but a display of hate and has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with republicanism.

“The people of the Bogside do not want this bonfire and they certainly do not want displays of hate designed to cause distress and antagonism to their neighbours in this city.”

‘Pyre to hatred’

Sir Jeffrey, the DUP's chief whip in Westminster, asked why the "pyre to hatred" had not been bulldozed.

“Of all the low, sickening, disgraceful actions, this one really does take some beating,” he tweeted.

“To insult the memory of these men and cause further hurt and pain to their families is both inhumane and pure evil.”

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said the Bogside bonfire was "utterly disgusting and shameful".

“There is no place for this kind of sectarianism, intimidation and disrespect for flags and symbols,” she said.

“A small number of people on both sides of our community seem determined to drag us back. They must not prevail.”

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the bonfire did not represent the people of Derry.

He said: “Totally appalled to see flags, poppy wreaths and the names of murdered policemen on a bonfire in Derry.

“Reps from all parties and youth workers tried to stop it.

“This nonsense doesn’t represent the views of the people of Derry.

“It’s sectarian and anti social. Nothing more.”

Hundreds of people gathered in the Meenan Square area of Derry on Wednesday night as the towering bonfire was set ablaze.

Located perilously close to a building, fire crews were deployed to contain the flames, spraying water on to the property’s roof.

Ms Long said the burning of the bonfire was “insanity”, adding: “Someone will end up losing their lives to one of these fires”.