Calls for calm have been made after a bonfire in Portadown was set alight in the early hours of this morning.
Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said the bonfire was lit at around 3.30am in what he described as a ‘deliberate attempt to deny the community the ability to celebrate their culture and identity’.
“I have watched over the last four weeks as mostly young men have put their shoulder to wheel to build the Edenderry Bonfire in Portadown. The area was kept clean, there was no tyres and there was a tangible feeling of excitement ahead of the lighting of the bonfire on 2 July to mark the first day of the Battle of the Somme on the 1 July.”
“These actions do nothing to help create a tolerant society and endangers the good will that has been created over the last number of weeks.”
“In calling for the community to remain calm in the face of provocation I also ask that other areas in Portadown and further afield come together to help the Edenderry Bonfire building rebuild a bonfire so it can be lit on Monday 2 June as originally planned. This would be the community response I would most like to see and in doing so it shows those who have taken this dangerous and clearly sectarian action will never deny the identity and culture of the community in Edenderry.”
DUP Cllr Darryn Causby said ‘The malicious burning of Edenderry bonfire in the early hours of Friday morning has no doubt been orchestrated by those who are intent on stirring up tensions in Portadown during the period up to the twelfth celebrations.
“Those who have sought to curtail the cultural expression of Unionists in Portadown have managed to unite the Unionist community against this intolerance.
“I am aware that those building other fires in the town have agreed to support Edenderry to ensure that their fire goes ahead as planned on Monday 2nd July.
“I know that those who build the fire in Edenderry have worked hard to ensure that the area is kept well every year. This bonfire is one that is enjoyed by thousands of people at the beginning of July each year and this year will be no different.
“Those who are determined to cause tension and trouble serve only a narrow intolerant agenda and to react to that would play into their hands. I appeal for calm heads over this next few weeks and hope that as Unionist we will go out and enjoy the cultural celebrations as we do every year and rise above any provocation’