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Blair asks PSNI to investigate bonfire images for possible hate crimes

Alliance Policing Board representative John Blair MLA has asked the PSNI to investigate whether offensive messages placed on a number of bonfires over the weekend constituted hate crimes.

Mr Blair was speaking after the burning of bonfires on the Eleventh Night. Several had election posters, names of individuals and other images placed on them before being ignited.

The South Antrim representative also condemned several nights of attacks on the police in North Belfast, saying it was an attack on the entire community.

“While I am respectful of the diversity of culture in Northern Ireland and many bonfires passed off without major incident, some displayed hateful and hurtful messages, making them a far cry from the family friendly occasions they were billed as.

“Images containing people’s names, election posters, national flags or displays about killing people are not a celebration of culture but rather about promoting hatred and they have no place in our society. I will be asking the PSNI to investigate potential breaches of hate crime legislation in relation to a number of these bonfires.

“All of us have a job to do in taking collective action to bring these sorts of provocative displays to an end. That will require political leadership at different levels and of course in the community itself, as many people in local areas do not want this on their doorstep.

“I also condemn this weekend’s attacks on police in the North Queen Street area of North Belfast. Unfortunately this is not the first time we have seen such utterly deplorable events at this time of year. It is not only an attack on police but an attack on the local community and indeed wider Northern Ireland. I give my full support to the PSNI in tackling this violence and I urge anyone with information on those behind it to please pass it along.”