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11th Jul 2021

Michelle O’Neill condemns bonfires in Northern Ireland as she asks people not to be “involved in street disorder”

Clara Kelly


“It’s inviting all this tension and all this trouble.”

Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill is asking people to stay home on 12 July as she has condemned the lighting of bonfires in interface areas of Northern Ireland.

“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.

Speaking to the Andrew Marr Show on Saturday, O’Neill said that the bonfires are “inviting all this tension and all this trouble”.

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.

Journalist Patricia Devlin shared footage of one bonfire which collapsed in Portadown in Armagh on Friday evening.

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 the North.

Last year’s 12 July parades were canceled over Covid-19 restrictions, however, the Orange Order has said that the parades this year 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 so far 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.

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