Bonfire of Profanities by Fra Hughes

As the fires burn out the embers continue to smoulder.

Each year around the twelfth of July, law-abiding citizens have to put up with sectarian bonfires, marches, closed roads, illegal potentially life-threatening street fires and the ever-present threat of violence.

For the last several years the New Lodge Road area has witnessed significant violence between the state police and the local community.

The reason for this inter-communal tension leading to this violence is quite simple. The placing of a bonfire, on an interface, is designed to raise tension, to provoke a reaction, and encourage inter-communal violence.

The positioning of the bonfire on the interface between the nationalist New Lodge and the loyalist Tigers Bay leaves no other logical conclusion.

Who is responsible for the attendant violence?

The bonfire builders?

The Police?

The residents who are provoked and offended by the sectarian display of bigotry it represents, with its adornments of anti-Irish, anti-Catholic ready to be burnt? 

The bonfire builders take no responsibility for the provocation.

They blame the residents for the violence.

The Police blame the residents, claiming this is a law and order issue. They take no responsibility for allowing the provocation to remain.

The political representatives and the community workers on the Nationalist side blame the parents for allowing their kids, some as young as eleven and twelve to be drawn into conflict with the Police by the sectarian goading of the loyalists.

The media blame everyone, mainly the New Lodge community but funnily enough, they do not condemn the Police for their heavy-handedness, their provocations of the youth and their one-sided policing.

Who do I blame? 

I blame the gutless cowards in City Hall who grovel before threats of violence from loyalists if the fires are removed.

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I blame the Police for facilitating these illegal bonfires and roadblocks., the posters, effigies and sectarian comments placed on the bonfires and then burnt, which the Police claim are hate crimes, yet they allow this to continue?

My election poster was burnt on the Mount Vernon bonfire a few years ago.

Prior to the bonfire being set alight, several days before, I contacted the Police.I was informed they were treating the matter as a ‘ hate crime ‘ and they further advised if I went to the bonfire site to regain my stolen property ‘I would be arrested for ‘breach of the peace and removed from the area’.

I blame the Police for some of the violence as they annually protect loyalist communities while simultaneously saturating the New Lodge road with armoured vehicles, heavily armed Police, many in full riot gear chasing 12-year-olds up the entries and back alleyways while trying to secure another arrest.

Nationalist youths are met with batons, loyalist youths are met with harsh words such as “Leave this to us”?

Now that the provocation has ended, with the bonfires and the illegal band parades, street drinking and annual hate-fest against all things Irish and Catholic facilitated by the state is over, for the time being, what happens next?

Clearly the Police will move heaven and earth to arrest, charge and prosecute all the nationalist youths they can identify.

There will be much self-congratulation on a job well done and pious wringing of hands over the violence.

The public representatives elected by the nationalist community will do nothing and wait simply for the same thing to happen next year?

I will not vote for anyone who does not stand up against hatred and bigotry 

I will not elect anyone who does not demand these illegal bonfires are stopped once and for all.

In partial response to the loyalist illegal bonfires in Tigers Bay, I guess this year will see a return of the anti-internment bonfire on August 9th in the New Lodge area?

While nationalist representatives do nothing about the illegal bonfire in the Tigers Bay, which provokes a response from the nationalist youth , in complete contrast to this inaction, they will be demanding and facilitating the removal of any bonfire material collected in the New Lodge Road area, thus further alienating the youth of the district.

The state facilitates illegal loyalist bonfires yet demonises and attacks nationalist youth when doing the same, by daring to commemorate Internment.

I demand the Council, the Police and the State take full responsibility for their inactions in allowing this annual hate-fest around illegal bonfires and street roadblocks to continue unchallenged.

Cowards and Knaves.

I also question the impartiality of the police.

I have witnessed nearly all my life first-hand the bipartisan approach of the Police and it sickens me. The Police operate by consent of the People. I withdraw my consent.

If in North America white supremacists celebrated the Confederacy with illegal bonfires.,burnt images of those elected to represent their black neighbours,  held illegal street parades, hurled racial abuse at black people and sang songs of being ‘up to their necks in slavers blood surrender or you die’, this would be treated as a racist hate crime.

If the Police got into a violent confrontation with those who protested against this abhorrence and not those who created it, that would be racist.

Do we need a Catholic Lives Matter protests at City Hall?

What we do need, is a Bonfires Commission.

All bonfires to be regulated. 

All illegal Bonfires removed

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Facedown the bigots!

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