Torching of SF posters on a loyalist bonfire a ‘hate crime’

Children and adults watch as Sinn Fein posters burned at loyalist bonfire in Portadown
Children and adults watch as Sinn Fein posters burned at loyalist bonfire in Portadown

The burning of posters belonging to Upper Bann Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd and Catherine Seeley have been reported to the PSNI as a ‘hate crime’

Photos of children watching the posters being burnt on a bonfire in Portadown were posted on the former Education Minister’s Facebook page.

Sharing the images he said the photographs were taken at a ‘children’s bonfire and fun day’.

Mr O’Dowd said the matter has been reported to police as both theft of posters and a hate crime.

In his Facebook statement, he said: “These are images from a “ Children’s Bonfire and Fun Day” in Portadown yesterday (Saturday).

“What message does it send out to young people that it is acceptable to burn images of elected representatives?

“These images and others from the main bonfire have been reported to the PSNI as a hate crime and as the posters were stolen, the crime of theft has also been reported,” said the Upper Bann MLA.

Also sharing the images on Twitter, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness said: “Respecting PSNI independence and judgement on how to deal with these hate crimes, past time when intervention required.”

Superintendent David Moore said: “We are investigating complaints about Sinn Fein election posters being placed on a bonfire in the local area. This is being treated as a hate incident.

“We take hate incidents very seriously and actively investigate all incidents reported to us. Hate crime is wrong on all levels and the PSNI will do everything it can to ensure that everyone, from whatever background, can live free from prejudice, fear and discrimination.

“Where police are aware of a crime being committed, an investigation will follow.”