Sinn Fein want alternative to Internment bonfire…

Probably one of the most under reported aspects of summer activities is the August 9th bonfire, which nominally commemorate the introduction of Internment (or Operation Demetrius) by the local Unionist administration in 1971 – though this one seems to more about anti unionism than anti internment per se. Sinn Fein’s North Antrim MLA, Daithi McKay wants an alternative found to this bonfire on what is still the relatively mixed estate of Dunclug in Ballymena.

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  • chewnic

    Mick. probably under-reported as they rarely happen anymore. The only remaining one in West Belfast used to be at the bottom of the Grosvenor Road, organised by a motley crew of pit bull owning spidermen .
    There was a small boney in the Market near the notorious ‘Rave Row’, organised by said ravers from said Row. They tried to have one in the Strand but this had to be lit a week early before members of the Community Forum could remove this.

  • GavBelfast

    I suppose this is only copy-cat behaviour, and it looks like a carbon copy of the one beside Central Station in Belfast, that must have impressed the visitors.

    I notice there was a letter in tonight’s Tele from an Aussie working in Belfast who seemed angered and aghast that people behave like this, whatever colours are being burned.

  • Sean

    and wasnt it funny that she missed the environmental dissaster that is the 11th night

  • Cruimh

    Am I right in thinking Dunclug is dissident territory rather than mainstream SF ?
    For some reason SF downplayed the anniversary this year.

  • GavBelfast


    What(aboutery) are you on about(ery)?


  • Dewi

    On a serious point for once what is required is the reduction of conflict provoking events. The whole “burning the other sides flags” business is just intrinsically provocative. Good on Sinn Fein for taking the initiative here.

  • jone

    Wasn’t the original rationale behind the West Belfast Festival to provide an alternative to the burning, wrecking and general hooding which accompanied bonfires?

    The dimwits behind the bonfire in Dunclug are of the dissident/ jumped up hood variety.

    I think there’s also a bonfire in the Kilwilkie in Lurgan which again is dissident territory.

  • Sean

    What am I on about.

    Hmm one wee bonfiree upsets the lass

    but 10’s of thousands of tires being burnt simutaneously did’nt seem to register with her! so what Whataboutery are you on

  • Cruimh

    Sean – “aghast that people behave like this, whatever colours are being burned.”

    ‘Whatever colours are being burned’ does refer to the loyalist spidefest.

  • Dawkins

    “Daithi McKay wants an alternative found to this bonfire”

    Dear Mr McKay,

    I have an alternative to this and every other bonfire: No bonfire. Quite simple when thinks about it, but that’s probably the crux of the problem.

  • Dawkins

    Quite simple when one thinks about it….

  • jimboy2

    It’s very simple ……… no massive bonfires at all, ever, anywhere.

    It must surely be illegal to burn tires and furniture and therefore cause pollution to the immediate area. Can I dispose of a couple of old tyres and a suite in my garden by setting them on fire?

    No more bonfires …….. full stop.

  • before there’s a debate on whataboutery lets have a view on degree’ery

    No one wants the bonfires becuase of the enviromental issues, spide behaviour, burning flags and because it’s pre-Peace-Process behaviour.

    But what’s the number of bonfires?… Sean are you saying that there’s tens of thousands of loyalist fires and only a few nationalist ones ?

    Let the listing begin.

  • MÓG

    best just avoiding bonfires. nothing good comes out of them. just leads to antisocial behaviour. leave it to the bigots!

  • GMA

    Come the 11th night bonfire plenty of people are on here focusing on specific fires (Ballycraigy, Antrim) and their burning of flags, display of offence phrases etc. How bigoted and sectarian those damn prods are!

    Now we have the equivilant from a nationalist perspective and what do we have? Ach, sure there are only a few of them, nothing compared to the 11th night etc.

    Lets be clear, it doesn’t matter. Burning the tricolour is as offensive to nationalists as burning the union flag is to unionists regardless if it happens at 1 event or 10.

    Basically it doesn’t sit with the ‘not sectarian … honest’ narrative of the republicans so we just get silence.

  • Cahal

    anon, he said tens of thousands of tires being burnt.

    Burning tires, burning flags with the sole aim of annoying your neighbors, marching around in berets and Charlie Chaplin outfits, reenacting seiges while dressed in bright blue and orange uniforms…its just so embarrasing and lame.

  • DC

    Just goes to show that we’ve more in common than what divides us.

  • Dewi

    GMA – sorry I thought it was Sinn Fein who wanted to stop this.

  • Cruimh

    “marching around in berets and Charlie Chaplin outfits, reenacting seiges while dressed in bright blue and orange uniforms”

    How about these lads cahal ?

    Check out their uniforms – battledress and berets.

    Interesting combination –

    Irish Night in aid of Irish language
    Sat 28th July 2007
    ST Emmets GAA Hall Slaughtneil

    also featured at that GAA hall do for “The Irish Language” – Sons Of Freedom RFB, “We are proud to march every year in memory of the gallant and fearless volunteers of Óglaigh Na hÉireann Briogaid Dhoire PIRA”

    Uniform – battledress and beret.

    Which is more of a problem ? Bands in Battledress and Berets or Uniforms based on a couple of centuries ago ?

    Very unionist and protestant friendly bands – helps put protestant attitudes to GAA and Irish language into context.

  • Rory

    Let’s just set a date for next year when we will all have one “absolutely ginormous, muthafuckin’ mother of all bonefires” (to use the current vernacular) when we all together burn all bonefire material, once and forever, on one all encompassing pyre.

    We might also feel moved to chuck on those who, wearing whatever football shirts, become overexuberant at the spectacle.

    Wouldn’t that be nice? And so inter-community.

  • Cruimh

    Rory – we could also chuck a few Phelps on 😉

  • Cahal

    Cruimh, didn’t bother to even look at your links – I assume it is a bunch of beret wearers marching around for the glory of Ireland. Some craic.

    My original post stands.

  • Cruimh

    cahal – the question still stands – Which is more of a problem ? Bands in Battledress and Berets or Uniforms based on a couple of centuries ago ?

  • Cahal

    “Which is more of a problem ? Bands in Battledress and Berets or Uniforms based on a couple of centuries ago ?”

    What ever bunch of monkeys is blocking my road at any particular time.

  • Cahal

    I’ve never been injured by an item of clothing, even a ‘battledress’. The bright orange is quite painful to look at though.

  • Rory

    “Rory – we could also chuck a few Phelps on ;)”

    But only those with tattoos (sp.?), Cruimh, or the gay Phelpses.

    The gay tattooed Phelpses would have to be burned twice otherwise they would never get to heaven.

  • Cruimh

    Would you want to share heaven with them Rory ? 😉

    An eternity of listening to the family Phelps ? No thanks!

  • GMA


    Yes SF have paid lip service to this. Don’t be confused: “Sinn Féin had members on the ground working in Dunclug throughout the duration of the bonfire that was held here last week and had to respond swiftly to a number of anti-social incidents which occurred.”

    Not exactly working to stop it is it?

  • I met the said gentleman, Sinn Fein’s North Antrim MLA, Daithi McKay, a number of years ago. At that time he arrived at the venue, a mixed community cross border event, suitably attired in dirty trainers, unwashed jeans, T-shirt and anorak, he was then as now, avidley anti Protestant, anti-British and anti-Unionest. What a change from the well polished gentleman now. Some other things never change.

  • joeCanuck

    New one.
    Don’t you just love it!

  • Sean

    atleast they paid lip service

    The DUP and UUP have never so much as tried to control a bonfire let alone stop one so I think the Shinners are still light years ahead of the unionist muppet squad

  • Dawkins


    “What a change from the well polished gentleman now.”

    Huh? Is this the same Daithi McKay I’m looking at on Mick’s link?

  • Slim Jim


    I saw Daithi McKay attending a cross-community event at a Presbyterian Church in the north end of Ballymena earlier this year. He didn’t come across as anti-Protestant in the least.

    The anti-social behaviour around the bonfire has significantly decreased since Sinn Fein got organised in the area and i hope its only a matter of time before its finished completely.

  • gerry enabler

    At least the Celtic jerseys are the right colour for the day in question. Some of the babes look ok in green and white. The Orange jumpers have to go though.
    The August bonfires were to hijack traditional Catholic festivals of the same month and replace them with Provo ones. Shining Path, Peru’s Provos, did osmething similar. Maybe the Colombia Three can elaborate.

  • gerry enabler

    Here we have Ballymena Micks playing hurling with a hedghog as sliotar. Time to ban the GAA and Catholicism? Note the hedgehog’s name is Harry(ville). These Kruger Park videos were distractions.


  • Sean

    cmon even I dont troll that stupidly

  • DK

    Well done Sinn Fein, although you have to question – like the UUP/DUP with the orangefest bonfires – just how much influence they actually have.

    I haven’t seen the markets one yet, but if it is the one constructed from all that wood/sofas/etc that was in the ex-parking lot at the top of stewart street, then that seems to belong to the YMH (Young Market Hoods), who are not friendly to Sinn Fein.

  • moochin photoman
  • Chris Donnelly

    As some posters have rightly pointed out, Sinn Fein has been working to end the bonfire culture in nationalist areas, and the party condemns the practice of flag burning in an era when we are working towards creating a mutually tolerant society.

    The fact that there remain very few such bonfires across nationalist districts is a sign of how successful republican and community leaders have been over the past 20 years in leading their communities towards a more positive expression of cultural identity.

    The Dunclug area is one in which dissidents have been trying for years to organise- I don’t know the extent of their involvement in organising such a bonfire, but it is a good sign that Daithi and other Sinn Fein representatives are active in the area trying to lead the community in a much more positive direction.

  • Cruimh

    “The Dunclug area is one in which dissidents have been trying for years to organise”

    Chris – I was under the impression that it has been theirs for quite some time.

  • pacman

    I had one of these monstrosities built and lit less than 30 yards from my house this year. My neighbours were good enough to call the Frire Service to dampen down my shed, fence and oil tank to ensure there was no repercussions on the night itself but over the course of the next three days, the Fire Service were called out four more times due to the spides attemtping to carry the fire on.

    The most sinister incident was when one of them deliberately set fire to the hedge at the back of my fence in an attempt to set the fence on fire as apparently they blame my household for spoiling their fun. It was even more sinister considering the fact that I was at work and my wife (who works nights) was sleeping at the time. My neighbours were exemplary again, from trying to tackle the blaze themselves and in succeeding in getting the Fire Service out again.

    So, given that at the last election, the only party to canvass my vote is Sinn Fein, I decided to contact two of their councillors to see what they could do for me (the legal alternative before I decide to bring it to a swift end). One promised to phone my wife back as he was in a restaurant at the time (it’s been nearly a week and still waiting) and the Sinn Fein office assured me they would get the other councillor in touch with me ASAP as she is local to the area (also nearly a week and still waiting).

    I know where I’ll not be wasting a vote next time.

  • Sean,

    You just don’t get:

    “…light years ahead of the unionist muppet squad”.

    So, as mentioned before, here’s your Yellow Card. This forum is for discussing politics, not swapping playground insults!

  • Paul McMahon


    I know how much of a stickler you and your various previous incarnations are for facts so one small correction. You state that Sons of Freedom RFB played at St Emmets hall when in actual effect it’s billed as:

    “Music by Spirit of Freedom & Sons of Ireland Flute Band”

    [Spirit of Freedom being presumably being an acoustic band]

    So, a minor correction, no mention of Sons of Freedom RFB

    “Which is more of a problem? Bands in Battledress and Berets or Uniforms based on a couple of centuries ago” ?

    Both are absolutely ridiculously vulgar shows of kitschy shlock which, along with bonefires should be consigned to the shithole of boorish chaff.

  • Can I just add a thought?

    St John’s Eve (Midsummer) is celebrated from Greece to Finland, and out to the west of Donegal with a bonfire. Bonfire night in England was once contentious, but is now pretty inert (I’ve not been to the Lewis Pope burning ceremony, but I understand it mostly passes off without much local rancour).

    The bonfires themselves are not necessarily the problem, but a certain anti social, anti family culture that has grown up around them. Both St John’s and the 5th November occasions are highly family oriented occasions. Of course the attachment of local bonfires to specific contentious political commemorations, adds to the complexity and even the menace of the occasion. And, of course, the safety issues ‘pacman’ raises are a worry to more that those ‘on the other side’!

    Is there any viable way to steer away or around these problems to make bonfires more open and more widely accepted in Northern Irish society.

  • Yokel

    The answer is to keep moving the way things have been going.

    Over the last lot of years I’ve seen a big reduction in the bonfires on both sides. Yes they still exist but both local community initiatives and also I think just a progressive loss of interest on the part of many people are reducing their numbers bit by bit.

    Dramatic interventions of any type are not the answer. Given time an ‘acceptable level’ of bonfires will be achieved for the aboev reasons.

    And before anyone says ‘whatabout that massive big bonfire in such and such this year I see noc hange there’. I don’t give a fiddlers. For fecks sake, will you give it time, like a generation.

  • An Céilleachaireach Rúa

    St. John’s night (or Bonnah Night) is widely celebrated in Cork City but strangely not in the county or indeed in surrounding counties

  • Cruimh

    I stand corrected Paul 🙂

    But I think it’s a bit disingenuous to dismiss battledress and berets – Paramilitary garb – as “vulgar shows of kitschy shlock ” which certainly does apply to the fancy dress of most bands – and surely it’s appalling that a band in paramilitary garb should be playing in a GAA hall at all, let alone for an Irish Language event?

  • Paul McMahon

    ” But I think it’s a bit disingenuous to dismiss battledress and berets – Paramilitary garb”

    I don’t think that it’s disingenuous at all.

    Military style clothing? it just makes me think of the Village People of Public Enenmys camp dance ‘bodygaurds’.

    “Surely it’s appalling that a band in paramilitary garb should be playing in a GAA hall at all, let alone for an Irish Language event”?

    For sure, absolutely inappropriate. A morror reflection of those bands which carry a UVF 1912, [wink wink],flag which play at all those “cultural events”.

    Garish flotsam which should be jettisoned at the first available opportunity

  • Sean

    I do not believe the yellow card is fair, it wasn’t a playground insult but a rather spartan turn of phrase.

    We have the usual suspects on here complaining because of 2 or 3 republican bonfires in the whole of the six counties. these same indivuals come on here and try to tell us that the bonfires on the 11th are part of their “culture” and therefor are unasalable. How can you both tell someone else they are not allowed to have a bonnie while claiming the inalienable right to have a thousand of your own? Perhaps I misused the phrase as its not one used in Canada but I don’t believe I did nor do I believe it deserved a yellow card as I note you allowed someone to call catholics “micks” with out any aprobation

  • Mick Fealty

    You have considerable form in this regard. I’ve no intention of pursuing this to a red, if you settle down and try to deal with the detail of each case they arise rather than seeing each thread as an opportunity to engage in content-less badinage.

  • Ricky

    The bonfire at the Markets seems to have been organised by the INLA there seems to be a lot of there flags around the area.

  • DK

    “The bonfire at the Markets seems to have been organised by the INLA there seems to be a lot of there flags around the area.”

    Yes, there is “INLA KAH” at the top of the road by the bonfire (facing the traffic going to East Belfast – nice). A lot of “YMH vs. IRA” stuff as well.

  • Ricky

    I also saw INLA griffti at the Short Strand. Are they prevelent in that Markets/Short Strand area?

  • moochin photoman

    What you don’t see in the shot i linked to was the Alex Maskey election posters that were on the bonfire too.
    I’m told that a nearby resident complained about the flags etc and was told that his house would be attacked…….sure enough 4 hours later it was.
    The community reps that appeared on Newsline that night could hardly string a sentence together through either drug or drink (in my opinion, their eyes were very glassy for 6.30 of an evening).

  • StarHound

    Sinn Féin organised a public meeting in the Mrakets with a view to having the bonfire stopped.

    Sinn Féin workers spoke against the bonfire and suggested alternatives, there was a show of hands vote which was in favour of the bonfire. Sinn Féin duly disassociated themselves with this bonfire and left it to the motley crew of dissidents, thugs and INLA members who wanted it. The rest was up to the Police to police.

    These bonfires also have a pre-internment history and were around the Feast of the Assumption in the past.

  • Cruimh

    Must admit I thought short strand and the markets were both solidly SF/provo rather than IRSP/ILNA.
    After all it was in the markets area that the cover-up riots occurred after the McCartney murder.

  • Sean

    What cover up riots

  • Dewi

    YMH ? Anyone ?

  • Paul McMahon

    Young Market Hoods Dewi

  • Cruimh
  • oldruss

    Why are these bonfires “off limits” to the PSNI?

    The Eleventh Night bonfires, from their sheer numbers and from the tyres burned, would seem to be quite unsound environmentally; and their purpose seems almost exclusively to be to agitate and annoy.

    The Belfast Telegraph and BBC prominantly featured the “F*ck Mickey-Bo” banners that turned up at some bonfires last year, and also featured stories about about the bonfires from the Coleraine area this year, where posters with the name of a young Catholic lad who had recently died of heart failure were going to be burned.

    These kinds of anti-social behavior surely aren’t condoned by the authorities, and yet, the PSNI seemed oblivious to the “F*ck Mickey-Bo” banners last year, and out right refused to help the father this year in Coleraine remove the signs with his son’s name scrawled on them.

    What purpose is served at all by having bonfires, like the Eleventh Night ones or these more recent ones in nationalist areas?

    We here in the States have large pyrotechnic displays organized by cities and towns all across the country to celebrate Independence Day (July 4th); but there seems to be a general acceptance of such celebrations on this side of the pond. We’re really not sticking it in the Brits’ faces, and the British ambassador is more likely to be a guest at a picnic hosted by our president than to be burned in effigy along side Her Majesty.

  • Sean

    There is no evidence that those were cover up riots. You have taken the suposition of some one with a political axe to grind and stated it as fact with out providing any more evidence that the earlier supposer could provide.

    Therefor with out proof you are stating at best an obfuscation and at worst a lie as a fact. that what did not happen happened and using it as proof in an arguement entirely for the purpose of derailing the conversation and dragging it off topic

    There mick is that enough words for you, I prefer to be a bottom line kind of person but you prefer verbiage so please inform me if this is acceptable

  • Mick Fealty


    I’m not looking for kind words, or open affection, just attention to detail, argument and facts. Without any of these, your chosen ‘bottom line’ would appear to be whether or not you judge your opponent to have ‘an axe to grind’. That, in this context, is no bottom line at all.

    You may think it makes for gripping reading, but “the Cruimh and Sean Show” has a very limited appeal, since the sole purpose seems to wind each other up. It is strictly a participatory sport.

    If you want to continue, please do it somewhere, and quit wasting good bandwidth on Slugger!!

  • Cruimh

    ““the Cruimh and Sean Show” has a very limited appeal, since the sole purpose seems to wind each other up.”

    leave me out of this please – I’m playing nice.
    I haven’t responded in kind, nor shall I.

  • Sean

    the person I was refering to an axe to grind was Mark Durkan a member of a party in opposition to Sinn Fein who obviously was trying to win votes by pointing out his opinion of actions of others. He most definately has a political axe to grind as he’s a profesional political axe grinder

    While you blogged the original story crumb linked to it was not you I was refering to but it seems you have a thin skin about criticism and see things not there

  • Mick Fealty


    You are simply not listening. All politicians have axes to grind, it is an essential part of the game. Telling us that is like insisting that readers notice that all cars have wheels.

    It is also man not ball. Easier than thinking about an issue I’ll grant you. But dull. Very dull. Which is why playing the man is out of bounds!

  • Sean

    But I would say that I was playing the ball not the man because I was merely pointing out that he was using attributable but unproven statements as facts in an effort to move the arguement off the topic

  • Mick Fealty

    You could try that Sean, but since your predilection for playing the man is the issue, that is entirely beside the point.

  • Sean

    Hmm well I would agree i do have a predilection for playing the man and not the ball in relation to certain posters, I would refute the arguement that that is all I do

    Plus I note you are very much letting Turgon play the man and not the ball in relation to Trowbridge with out a whisper of censure

  • Mick Fealty

    I’m not concerned with the bits you do well, just the bits that are in flagrant breach of the commenting rules.

  • smcgiff

    Last night (15th August), to my shame, was the first time I visited Northern Ireland. It was a brief sojourn into Derry, but apart from the bizarre practice of orange (they have to get that in everywhere don’t they!) lights to let you know when the traffic lights are going to turn green (there’s a message there I’m sure) the most striking thing I witnessed was the nationalist bonfires.

    Being the innocent that I am I spotted the British Flag and thought to myself (a little sadly) I’m now in a part of Ireland that’s within the UK. It took my less jaded wife to point out that the flags were on top of a bonfire – Might sound ridiculous, but I’m not used to seeing flags on tops of junk about to be burned and this wasn’t immediately obvious.

    I have to say I didn’t like it, and maybe it’s because I can no longer revel in victim hood while watching the more publicised Irish Tricolour being burned on top of loyalist bonfires – and lads, they’re much more smaller than the loyalist bonfires. Call THAT a bonfire….

    So, if you spotted a silver Cork reg SAAB 9-3 driving around the streets of Derry last night looking a little bewildered that was me.

  • Turgon

    Can a Saab 9-3 (or any other car for that matter) look bewildered? I fear that is an anthropomorphism too far. Admittedly I am one to talk since my children have named our cars and we use these names now in general converstion.

    I am not dying about bonfires and am disgusted by the episode in Coleraine. I also have some concerns about the enviromental damage caused by these bonfires but am more concerned about things being burned down than some contribution to the greenhouse effect (see Pacman’s post).

    The purpose served by these bonfires. Well I guess they are an excuse to have a party and get drunk.

  • andy

    On the Market bit
    I thought that was OIRA territory?
    Excuse my ignorance but do them and/or workers part have any representation in belfast anymore?


  • smcgiff

    That’s okay, Turgon – Us cars use names for ye bags of flesh too! 😉

  • oldruss

    Not to flog a dead horse, but if the only purpose to the bonfires, as you suggested, is, “an excuse to have a party and get drunk,” there would seem to be lots of other “excuses” which are far less offensive to one community or the other. And while I’m well past the party and get drunk stage in my life, as I remember it, when I was younger, no excuse was ever needed.

    But this all seems beside the point. The bonfires ARE offensive, and seem to harden the battle lines (not to be confused with the peace lines) that divide Belfast and other areas of the north. I understand the historical significance they have as related to William III’s invasion of Ireland to do battle with King James I; but that was in 1690 or something. Can’t there be a reason, not excuse, for a celebration that isn’t in your face offensive to half the population?

  • Realist

    Republicans guilty of double standards shocker.

    Loyalists burn flags and have sectarian phrases on placards at bonfires = all unionists guilty by default.

    Republicans burn flags and have sectarian phrases on placards at bonfires = it doesn’t represent all republicans.

    It’s all getting a bit predictable.

    What next?