Jeffrey Donaldson condemns burning of tricolour flags at Northern Ireland bonfires
"Respect is a two-way street. If you want to gain respect for your traditions and culture, you've got to show respect".
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has condemned the burning of election posters and Irish tricolour flags at "Eleventh Night" bonfires in Northern Ireland.
Around 160 "Eleventh night" bonfires were lit across Northern Ireland on Sunday night to mark the peak of the parade season.
The "Eleventh Night" bonfires precede the 12 July parades, which will take place on Monday at 100 locations across Northern Ireland.
11 July is also one of the busiest nights of the year for the fire service in Northern Ireland.
Because 11 July falls on a Sunday this year, a number of bonfires had already been lit on Friday and Saturday evening and some bonfires received criticism by the public and politicians for burning elections posters, tricolours and effigies.
"I don't want to see election posters or flags burnt on bonfires. I think we can celebrate our culture and our tradition in a respectful way," Donaldson told the BBC.
"Respect is a two-way street; if you want to gain respect for your traditions and culture you've got to show respect for the traditions, culture and symbols of other communities.
"I think we need to continue working with those who organise bonfires to look at safety issues and to look at the height of bonfires, where they are located. In the end, public safety is absolutely paramount when it comes to this."
Last year's 12 July parades were cancelled over Covid-19 restrictions, however, the Orange Order has said that the parades will be making a return this year and will be smaller than usual, with 100 local parades taking place instead of the usual 18.
The parades mark the victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, which ensured a Protestant line of succession to the British monarchy.
Two Stormont Ministers, Nicola Mallon and Deirdre Hargey, attempted to launch a bid to force police to remove one of the larges bonfires set up this year by loyalists at Tiger's Bay in North Belfast over concerns related to abuse and anti-social behaviour directed at residents while the site was being set up.
Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill also condemned the bonfires on Saturday.
Speaking to the Andrew Marr Show, O'Neill said that the bonfires are "inviting all this tension and all this trouble".
"Don't be involved in street disorder. Those who want to celebrate the Twelfth, that's absolutely their right and they should do that but lighting bonfires in interface areas is not acceptable," she said.