More bonfires..

Bonfire at Lecky Road flyover LondonderryLondonderry seems to have been the setting for most of the internment anniversary bonfires this weekend. Some, if not all, of which, according to the BBC report, were allowed to burn themselves out because they were “under supervision”. The report also claims that the fire service were unable to approach this bonfire at the flyover on Lecky Road, complete with tyres, Union flags and what the Sunday Life describes as “a portrait of a Church of Ireland Bishop”, because “the road was blocked”. But why was it allowed to be built on a public road in the first place? An Irish News report from 2006 [Google cache] notes that in that year the bonfire was moved to waste ground “after serious structural damage was caused to the flyover [in 2005].” Adds According to our knowledgable commenters, it was a portrait of this Bishop of Derry. Which is odd.. Update Apparently, the portrait was “stolen from a hoarding outside St Columb’s Cathedral several weeks ago.” And Gary has a closer look at the Bishop. With better photos..

, , ,

  • willis

    I’m very relieved that the PSNI are taking an equality of cowardice approach to all mass vandalism.

  • Wilde Rover

    And people say that there is a huge divide between the two communities. Where else in the world can you get two disparate groups that enjoy such similar interests?

    Naturally, it would only be fair if those who fancy burning tricolours and effigies of other denominations on their bonfires were able to pursue their cultural expressions on the road too.

    It’s good to see that the auld traditions like bonfires are being kept alive by the next generation.

  • Dave

    Let’s see…

    15k to resurface the road

    40k to repair the retaining walls

    5k to replace the railings

    3k to clean the debris

    10k for structural reports of heat damage to the flyover

    That’s circa 73k for fun night out for yobs courtesy of the taxpayer.

    Why is this obstruction not removed before the damage is done, and the vandals arrested?

  • I was up in the city yesterday and took some shots of the bonfire, but haven’t got them uploaded yet. There is a portrait of one of the former Bishops of Derry at the base of the bonfire – that of Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry. The same portrait is on display in St Columb’s Cathedral Chapter House Museum.

    So why are they burning the Earl Bishop? Do they not like the Mussenden Temple which he built at his Palace at Downhill?

    Can anyone shed some light on that?

  • Rory Carr

    Can anyone shed some light on that?

    Are you serious, Garibaldi? This is a NornIrn site. On issues like this we don’t do light. However if it’s heat you’re wanting you’ve come to the right place.

    Come on lads, serve the gentleman!

  • willis
  • LongDanSweeney

    OK nobody has bitten, so I will step up to Rory Carr’s challenge.

    Take everone in a tracksuit/tracksuit bottoms/Rangers top in and around this dangerous structure and tie them to it.

    Any suggestions for what to do next?

  • pól

    [i]OK nobody has bitten, so I will step up to Rory Carr’s challenge.

    Take everone in a tracksuit/tracksuit bottoms/Rangers top in and around this dangerous structure and tie them to it.

    Any suggestions for what to do next?[/i]

    More likely to be a Celtic top there to be fair.

    Idiots. Is it any wonder this place is a shambles?

  • pól

    What are they doing burning the Earl Bishop?

    According to wiki:

    “He favoured complete religious equality, and was opposed to the system of tithes … Having again passed some time in Italy, he returned to Ireland and in 1782 threw himself ardently into the Irish volunteer movement, quickly attaining a prominent position among the volunteers, and in great state attending the convention held in Dublin in November 1783.”

    Not exactly someone who you would traditional consider as an enemy to republicans.

  • Jim

    Christ almighty on a main road as well. The question as taxpayers do we really want in 2009 to be paying for feral youths of each tradition to wreck the look of their own neighbourhoods?

    They can still have their internment bonnie in a controlled way on waste ground. How about a ban on burning the flags of each country and enforce it by law?

  • RepublicanStones

    Bunch of idiots, is the only way to describe those responsible.

  • willis

    “How about a ban on burning the flags of each country and enforce it by law?”

    Jim – you are a gegg! Is that how you spell it in Ulster _Scots? Oh it is! http://www.dsl.ac.uk/dsl/
    I never realised I was bi-lingual.

    We have a legal ban on putting flags on lampposts – did it make any difference?

  • Burning an image of Hervey shows just how ignorant and sectarian these bunch of ignorant gobshites are. Not that I’m at all surprised. I’d be interested though to hear which organisation is behind this. I suspect it is supporters of the Real as opposed to the Continuity. Assholes.

  • Dean Morton doesn’t appear to be too happy with developments in Derry.

  • jim

    Willis,

    I have talked about flags and individuals using them to claim areas on a different thread. Putting flags on top of bonfires along with messages about Greysteel as in the Tigerbay area will only increase community hatred. Most people and a large number from within the loyalist community want to see this practise stopped. Winston Irvine from the Woodvale area took a stand on this in 09.

    The police should be allowed to enforce the law. If this was ROI or England and it was a poster of someone from an ethnic minority it would be taken down IMO. We should be trying to normalise this place and use the law to respect people’s right to their culture and prevent people from attacking the other sides symbols.

  • oldruss

    Both tribes seem to enjoy building and then burning these “bonfires”. Which tribe erects more bonfires, (11th July; 15 August, etc.) or which tribe began the tradition of building bonfires, seems wholly irrelevant.

    My understanding of the historical beginnings of the Unionist bonfires is that they commemorate lighting the way into Lough Foyle for King William III’s forces back in 1690.

    The bonfire in Derry (see picture at top) was built on a public highway, “the Queen’s Highway”. A notorious bonfire in Belfast last month towered over an entrance to a major Belfast hospital. There appears to be little control over where such edifices are going to be erected, nor what particularly is going to be used for fuel, such as old tyres.

    I know there was an attempt this year to create ecologically more friendly bonfires in parts of Belfast, but such half measures are just that, and do not do much to resolve tensions between the two sides.

    What would it take for both tribes to step back, and mutually agree not to erect bonfires in the future? No bonfires on the Eve of the Twelfth, and no bonfires commemorating Internment, or any other historical event (i.e. the Easter Rising). Could Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson pull off such a moratorium by their respective tribes? Perhaps Gerry Adams and Jackie McDonald?

    Is there any general interest to dial it down a notch or two or three? If both sides were asked to sacrifice somewhat equally, and give up their respective traditions, could that perhaps be yet another beginning at normalization.

    The political framework seems cobbled together for the time being with the GFA. It’s time that the public were more broadly involved in normalization. Too many Orange Halls and too many Catholic churches and GAA grounds are being burned and defaced; and lives are still being lost, such as the recent tragedy in Coleraine which took the life of Kevin McDaid and almost cost another man his.

  • Reader

    LongDanSweeney: Take everone in a tracksuit/tracksuit bottoms/Rangers top in and around this dangerous structure and tie them to it.
    Are you one of the organisers?

  • Greenflag

    Some more on Hervey -he was something of a United Man if not the full blown Toner .

    ‘Having again passed some time in Italy, he returned to Ireland and in 1782 threw himself ardently into the Irish volunteer movement, quickly attaining a prominent position among the volunteers, and in great state attending the convention held in Dublin in November 1783.

    Carried away by his position and his popularity he talked loudly of rebellion, and his violent language led the government to contemplate his arrest. ”

    Could these gobshites not find a picture of say Connolly or Pearse or some other ‘rebel’ to add to their Hervey collection ?

    These sectarian bonfires need to be stamped out. Imagine paying taxes for louts to destroy public property and the peace .

    Hang the f***kers -all of them !!!

  • the joxer

    ‘Londonderry seems to have been the setting for most of the internment anniversary bonfires this weekend’

    Shoddy research again, Pete. You really should learn to know your enemy.
    The anniversary of internment day was over a week ago.The dubious reason for this weekend’s bonfires was to mark the Feast day of the Assumption of Mary.Pitiful indeed when you see the state of the ‘god-fearing’ eejits involved in the bonfires who wouldn’t know a Holy Day if it hit them on the side of the heads.

  • michael

    Derry 15th Aug bonfires are indeed Assumption bonfires, at least that’s what I was taught as a wean growing up in Derry.

    I honestly don’t remember too many union flags on the bonfires when I was a kid, although the odd “Maggie Thatcher Milk Snatcher” effigy was invited along.

    The 15th bonfires are much fewer in numbers these days in Derry, street parties for children seem to be more popular, especially in areas like the Creggan.

    However those bonfires which have remained certainly have developed a very nasty sectarian streak in many cases. Then again, the Bogside Inn is surrounded by nutters most of the year round 🙂

  • Dave

    I suspect that there is already a law that prohibits the erection of ten metre fire and traffic hazards in the middle of the road. If citizens do not obey the law and the State does not enforce its existing law, how can making new law banning bonfires solve a problem that it does not address?

    The problem being that (a) the State has no legitimacy for NI’s republicans, and (b) the State is does not wish to provoke the ire of those who do not recognise its legitimacy.

    “What would it take for both tribes to step back, and mutually agree not to erect bonfires in the future? No bonfires on the Eve of the Twelfth, and no bonfires commemorating Internment, or any other historical event (i.e. the Easter Rising). Could Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson pull off such a moratorium by their respective tribes?”

    Both ‘tribes’ would be those who administer British rule in the British state, so (a) above applies.

  • Paul McMahon

    I’m a middle aged product of West Belfast and I have NEVER seen a bonfire on Aug 15th.

    ALL bonfires should be banned by law as all they do is give spides, millies and feral urchins a perfect opportunity to engage in a spot of drunken anti-social behaviour and ectarianism.

  • >???????

    Then again, the Bogside Inn is surrounded by nutters most of the year round 🙂

    Posted by michael on Aug 16, 2009 @ 08:24 PM

    MICHAEL; Is this why the owner closed the pub recently and put in on the market looking for a cool £1m??????

  • GavBelfast

    Low-life Prods in July aped by low-life Taigs in August.

    Each as bad as the other.

    And no moral high-ground for apologists “we’re better than they are”, “they’ve no culture, we have” etc, etc, of either tribe to occupy.

    Meanwhile, back on Planet Civilization, weren’t the Tall Ships once again a sight to behold.

  • Pete Baker

    Joxer

    I realise 9th August is the official anniversary.

    And I could have used the wording of the Irish News 16th August 2006 article on the bonfires – “to mark the Feast of the Assumption and the anniversary of internment.”

    But I suspect that, as you say, those involved “wouldn’t know a Holy Day if it hit them on the side of the heads.”

    I’d suggest that the conflation of the dates is deliberate.

    And I see Sinn Féin were holding their “annual commemoration” this weekend.

    Looks like that’s a moveable feast too..

  • the joxer

    Pete,
    Although you took the long route around, thanks for the admission that you were wrong.

  • barnshee

    hilarity all round the stupid derry wans live up to their reputation

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Republicans are really closest Unionists, they copy the Unionist style of parading, they try to emulate them.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Republicans are really closest Unionists, they copy the Unionist style of parading, they try to emulate them, unfortunately they fall short.

  • michael

    Fascists and Crypto-fascists UMH?

    Couldn’t agree more.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Why does another window appear when click a different page?

  • Seán

    Well done lads, stooping to the level of those bonfire burning eejits on the other side. If possible, even lower.

  • RepublicanStones

    Was at the commemoration in Cappagh. Have to say, the re-enactments were a bit twee, although the private helecopter flying round did add a touch of nostalgia audio-wise. Still think Michelle O’Neill is a tasty bit of gear.

  • Pete Baker

    joxer

    I could explain it all again, but I don’t really see the point.

    Yes, the actual anniversary was on the 9th, but that doesn’t seem to have impacted on the desire of others to conflate it, and the new commemoration, with the 15th.

    Guys

    If we could try to focus.

  • Veritas

    For those who don’t know the lie of the land in Derry. This obscene bonfire was located on a main road through the Bogside that leads to the Brandywell area and from there to Donegal.

    It was also located a full three minute walk from the home of Deputy Firts Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA and roughly the same from the home of Sinn Fein MLA Mitchel Mclaughlin. Not to mention that a number of other prominent Shinners live nearby too.

    I think it fair to assume that this bonfire was organised by dissident factions. Indeed it has been apparent for a long time that they control the Bogside. They have the Shinners running scared.

    What was to stop our “brave” DFM from taking a dander down the street and confronting these idiots.

    Oh sorry ! He doesn’t care any more. He wasn’t actually elected by the people of that constituency. Choosing instead to run off to Mid Ulster. So why should he care what happens in the neighbourhood where he lives.

    Similarly his friend and neighbour Mitchell McLaughlin could did nothing, as he too doesn’t represent anybody from his native town, having buggered off to somewhere in County Antrim.

    He too doesn’t appear to have cared enough about his neighbours either to have actually bothered to confront these bigots.

    Cowards and liars I say !!

  • Brian MacAodh

    Didn’t some PSF MLA get punched in the face after telling some youths to cool it with the bonfires??? A year ago I believe.

    Who actually organizes the bonfires? Anyone know?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Dave,

    The problem being that (a) the State has no legitimacy for NI’s republicans, and (b) the State is does not wish to provoke the ire of those who do not recognise its legitimacy.

    It’s a nice argument but you’re way off. On the 12th up here, bonfires are erected on public roads and community facilities all over the place, by people who are quite specifically celebrating the state’s legitimacy. The unionists aren’t usually so brazen as to block an entire main road (they’ll usually do it off to the side, like the one at the bottom of Skegoneill Avenue on the Shore Road) but nonetheless, the structures are completely illegal and do substantial damage with the cleanup and repair bill largely being footed by the state. I don’t like the whole bonfire thing at all but it would be a lot more difficult to object if they were on waste ground.

    Strictly speaking (EU regulations I believe) it’s not legal to burn things outdoors at all. Realistically, bonfires are not going to be banned so we need to start regulating and licensing them, and take tough enforcement action against the illegal ones.

    I suspect the bonfire above was erected by people who want to test the authorities to see if they would apply a different set of standards to a nationalist bonfire than to a unionist one. It looks like the authorities passed the test by showing near-ambivalence.

    I still think that most of the people who erect these bonfires are shitting in their own nests.

  • the joxer

    ‘I could explain it all again, but I don’t really see the point.’

    That’s ok Pete-one apology from you is enough.

  • YelloSmurf

    UMH, we aren’t critisising because we think they fail to meet your high stnadards, we’re critisising because of the mess, the expense, the bigotry, and the fact that they are all nobs. The 11th night bonfires are exactly the same.

    Seriously, bonfire building is a problem for all of us. We have to pass these intimidating structures, pay for the clean up, and breath in whatever crap they’re burning.

  • Sean

    Pete it looks like only you wish to conflate the 2 dates

  • Greenflag

    ulster’s my homeland/asylum ,

    ‘unfortunately they fall short’

    Surely you mean fortunately ? For every taig bonfire there are probably 100 for the arsonistic inclined proddies ?

    New NI Tourist brochure headline

    ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland -World Bonfire Capital and biggest outdoor lunatic asylum excluding maybe North Korea and the Middle East 🙁

  • oldruss

    Dave,

    You were quite dismissive of my earlier post, and my suggestion that Robinson and McGuinness (or Adams and McDonald) could play a role in getting the two tribes to mutually agree to take the whole bonfire ritual down a notch or two.

    To clarify, I wasn’t trying to suggest that the government, per se, actually do something. Neither the British during the years of direct rule, nor the post 1998 local assembly/executive seem inclined to take the bull by the horns. My thought would be for a more informal, “on the street”, endeavor to reduce and then to eliminate the bonfires. The bonfires seem to be one ritual which is manifested by both tribes, so that their elimination would affect both tribes and, therefore, may be more easily accepted.

    Continuing with the status quo does not seem to be an alternative. While the Marching Season seems less contentious than say 15 years ago, from my read of the news there seems to be a rising level of acrimony across the six counties over the last year or two. If the bonfires could be significantly reduced over the course of the next 12 months, perhaps some of the tension between the two tribes would correspondingly be reduced as well.

  • Dave

    Comrade Stalin, the comment you quoted was preceded by its context:

    “If citizens do not obey the law and the State does not enforce its existing law, how can making new law banning bonfires solve a problem that it does not address?”

    I think the points stands. This bonfire has been erected by those who do not recognise the legitimacy of the State and, ergo, its laws. As another commenter has pointed out, the location of it suggests that it is the republicans daring the Shinners to call on the State to remove it. The State, however, obviously has no intention of doing so.

    oldruss, I sorry if you got the impression that I was being “quite dismissive” of your post. I simply quoted part of it to point out that it relies on the premise that the State is regarded as being legitimate by the republicans who are behind the bonfire, and that they would be amenable to attempts by those who “administer British rule in the British state” to improve the quality of British rule. Their stated aim is to destroy the British state, not to improve it.

  • Greenflag

    óldruss,

    ‘to mutually agree to take the whole bonfire ritual down a notch or two’

    You can forget that. An outright ban with a 5,000 pound fine or 10 years mandatory jail sentence (no probation no parole ) for those who organise these bonfires is what’s needed .
    Shower of primitive mindless gobshites the lot of them 🙁

    ‘Continuing with the status quo does not seem to be an alternative.’

    Of course it is an alternative -at least until there’s another a4,000 dead , tens of thousands traumatised and billions more in property destroyed . As long as Queenie keeps sending the annual 6 billion to keep the pyromaniacs happy all will be well 🙁

    I tell yiz that if Jesus Christ had to return to Northern Ireland he’d demand a quick crucifixion as apreferable option to dealing with the mindless morons 🙁

  • oldruss

    Dave, it is both tribes who do the bonfire thing.

    The Eve of the Twelfth is legendary as to the number and size of the bonfires that are erected and set ablaze across Belfast and other areas in the six counties.

    As for respect for the State, the bonfires on 11 July are the products of those who maintain that they hold the strongest loyality to the Crown. Why, then, are they not ameniable to following the law, and ceasing to built these ecological disasters, not to mention their deeply sectarian nature?

    Do any politicaians, paramilitary ‘commanders’, Orange Order Grand Masters and the like have the gravitas to make any changes whatsoever there in the North?

  • Dave

    oldruss, you could try pointing out to loyalists that they owe a duty to the State as its loyal citizen to to uphold its laws in respect to permission for specific bonfires, but I don’t see how you can make the same argument to republicans who do not recognise the legitimacy of the State and its laws. I also doubt that the yobs involved would be influenced by ecological arguments.

    I suspect that loyalists would simply point out that bonfires are a part of their culture and that the duty of the State is to protect and promote the culture of the nation and not to act to censor it, citing Article 1 of the UN’s ICCPR. They might use different phraseology, of course. 😉

    Among nationalists and unionists who do accept the legitimacy of the state post-GFA, you still have the underlining abnormal dynamics of two nations competing with each other for control of one state, so it is a case of trying to balance competing interests within a jurisdiction where both nations are of roughly equal size. Compromise is all fine and dandy, but it should not become cultural censorship. Both nations fear that the other nation will use the State to censor its culture, so both of them are hyper-sensitive to any interference from the State in what are essentially cultural matters – and bonfires, obviously, fall into that category.

    You can’t have two nations sharing one state which is why 196 of the world’s 203 states are nation-states. This problem exists in one of the 203 states that isn’t a nation-state – the UK. So, the problem is deeper than bonfires, obstructions on the road, etc, and won’t be solved by reconfiguring the symptoms – managed and contained, but not solved.

    Obviously, the bonfire should be removed from the road, but equally obvious is that is hasn’t been removed.

  • GavBelfast

    An Israeli tourist disturbed by seeing flags, her country’s in particular, being burned in the Bogside on Saturday night, speaks much sense here – listen from about 24 minutes in ….

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00m6rrr/Morning_Programme_17_08_2009/

  • You can’t have two nations sharing one state

    Seriously, Dave. You need to stop flogging this dead horse. It’s getting old.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Dave

    I think the points stands. This bonfire has been erected by those who do not recognise the legitimacy of the State and, ergo, its laws. As another commenter has pointed out, the location of it suggests that it is the republicans daring the Shinners to call on the State to remove it. The State, however, obviously has no intention of doing so.

    I think we are addressing two slightly different points.

    I agree that this is a challenge to the authorities and Sinn Fein, to push them and to dare them to have the bonfire taken down. The state, in the form of the politicians who run it, are – in typical fashion – providing no leadership on this matter. We badly need legislation and guidelines governing bonfires. That won’t come until either someone is killed, or the EU intervenes and threatens to fine us for breaking whatever the guidelines/laws are on burning refuse in the open air.

    I think the state is being very deliberate in being seen to treat this bonfire in the same way that unionist bonfires are treated. One important difference compared with the unionists is the community and political leadership coming out against it.

  • Paul

    The bonfire in the Bogside would appear to be another dissident challenge to Sinn Fein. It was also an insult to the people living in the area, blocking a busy route and causing damage and disruption. The question I would like to ask dissidents is why do they have such utter contempt and disregard for the Irish people? I am aware that we must all be a terrible disappointment to them, constantly voting for peace and wanting no part of their infantile, hare-brained “campaign”, but I’m afraid, short of killing us all or forcing us all out of our homes, we are here to stay. Why don’t you all just piss off?

  • Gréagoir O Frainclín

    How can the PSNI allow folk to build such bonfires. Surely this is both dangerous and illegal….as well as sectarian. Time to end the likes of this and the annual 11th bonfire night.

    BTW, look all those Union flags. I wonder did those Irish Nationalists go out and buy all those Union flags or do most Irish Nationalists in NI keep an odd Union flag or two lying about the house.

    Bloody idiots, the lot of them!

    Gréagóir O Frainclín

  • Sean

    Probably just get them off the lamposts Grag

  • borderline

    One point in favour of bonfires is that they burn flags.

    Perhaps the PSNI should insist on at least 100 flags per 10 foot of bonfire.

  • Comrade Stalin

    How can the PSNI allow folk to build such bonfires

    The PSNI are not the problem.

    The absence of leadership from politicians is.

  • michael

    “BTW, look all those Union flags. I wonder did those Irish Nationalists go out and buy all those Union flags or do most Irish Nationalists in NI keep an odd Union flag or two lying about the house.”

    No, apparently, there has been a craze of flag raiding in Derry this summer.
    Loyalist youth from the fontain and republican youth from the bogside have indulging in a modern interpretation of the Tain.
    Raiding flags from the other sides areas then posting photos of the spoils on bebo before burning them on bonfires.

  • Big Maggie

    Comrade Stalin,

    “The PSNI are not the problem.”

    They are very much the problem. Every workday after 6pm they’re setting speedtraps on the A1 where there are roadworks. The 40mph limit is there to protect the roadworkers—who are of course conspicuous by their absence at 6pm or even earlier.

    So if the PSNI can waste manpower on that, where were they when that bonfire on Lecky Road was being built?

    I’m complaining to the police ombudsman. Here’s his email: info@policeombudsman.org

    I suggest others do likewise.

  • An Lorgain

    I see no one has mentioned that the anniversary of British troops entering NI is the 15 Aug, from the early 80’s that’s why Taghnaven in Lurgan held a bonfire on the 14th night. Kilwilkie estate had a fire this year on the 14th, though they had always held it on the 8th on previous years. So I suspect they’re in contact with their Derry conterparts. Taghnaven on the other hand hold a festival for the kids over two days and have for the last 10 years, so there is progress in some areas.

  • An Lorgain

    I’m interested to know when both sides actually started having bonfires, I suspect loyalists have been having them longer?

  • Neil

    An Lorgain,

    Nationalists erect the bonfires to celebrate the anniversary of internment without trial, which commenced in 1971, so I would hazard a guess that the fires were lit for the first time in August of ’72.

    For the Unionists it’s obviously to mark the Battle of the Boyne, and has most likely been going for much longer. I can find no more specific answer on the web, though I’m not looking that hard.

    Sinn Fein have made many changes over the years, for which many of us will be grateful. However it’s hard to ignore the blatant hypocrisy of their various positions regarding the dissidents. They are described as traitors for carrying out acts which could be straight from the history of the IRA – if they had carried out the attack on Masereene they would have been crowing about it for months.

    I recall attending the Beechmount bonfire a couple of times, it wasn’t a spectacular event, nothing happened. There was a lot of beer involved, and I’m sure that the people living around the wasteground could have done without it, but at the same time there was no violence or hassle. Point being though, the chucks didn’t voice any concerns back then.

    I pointed this out on another thread, but I would in all honesty expect to see a visible slide in support away from SF towards the dissidents in the near future. As has been pointed out on this site many times, the Adam’s line that we will be in a 32 county united socialist republic in our lifetimes is beginning to look like a lie.

    Nationalist areas are sliding down the shitter with a lack of punishment beatings/shootings coupled to the PSNI’s inablilty or unwillingness to tackle crime in our areas. The dissidents (so called dissidents according to Maskey) will step in to fill that role IMO.

    Sinn Fein stay away because they know that they will be laughed at if they attempted to prevent a bonfire.

  • Brian MacAodh

    “No, apparently, there has been a craze of flag raiding in Derry this summer.
    Loyalist youth from the fontain and republican youth from the bogside have indulging in a modern interpretation of the Tain.
    Raiding flags from the other sides areas then posting photos of the spoils on bebo before burning them on bonfires. ”

    If I was 14, I could see that being a lot of fun.

  • Pete Baker

    Apparently, the portrait was “stolen from a hoarding outside St Columb’s Cathedral several weeks ago.”

  • I’ve had a go at discussing this on my blog, along with a closer photo of the Bishop’s portrait.

  • Pete Baker

    Good post Gary.

    I’ve added a link to the original post here.

  • Big Maggie

    An Lorgain,

    “I’m interested to know when both sides actually started having bonfires”

    This would have been shortly after the race learned to walk upright. The bonfire was lit to propitiate the sungod.

    You can see how most of us have moved on since then, leaving only pockets of little men who never quite grew up.

  • oldruss

    The bonfires are just symbolic of the divisions between the tribes; but if there’s not a concerted effort by whomever will assume the responsibility (PSNI, MLA’s, paramilitary commanders, politicians: SF, UPRG, DUP, UUP, TUV, SDLP, etc.,) to bring about a significant reduction in these annual rites, where else can one make a visible, “on the ground” change?

    Education might be one place, but sorting that quagmire out will be decades in the doing and forced integration has historically not worked (i.e. bussing in the States in the 1960’s onward for racial integration).

    Expanding mixed housing in those estates controlled by the housing executive could lead to a better understanding between the divergent groups, but that would also be a long and arduous process, which may have very unintended consequences along the way (i.e. – more violence in places like south Belfast, which recently engaged in expelling 20 or so Roma families).

    The feeling I get from where I sit, which is, I admit, a large distance geographically and otherwise, is that the momentum of the GFA, the feel-good atmosphere that surrounded the decommissioning of weapons by the PIRA, the positive image of Paisley and McGuinness, of all people, working together or at least giving the impression of doing so, has eroded significantly. There is the murder in Coleraine of Kevin McDaid, the murder of the two soldiers and the PSNI officer by “dissident” republicans, the south Belfast expulsion of the Roma families, the attacks on Orange Halls and GAA grounds in north Antrim, etc. There seems to be a rising level of tension across the board.

    If there were to be a concerted effort by WHOMEVER has the where-with-all to go to the local neighborhoods and exert their influence on those who build the bonfires to give it a rest, and if done across the board, unionist/loyalist and nationalist/republican alike, perhaps there would be a very visible change in the status quo. Where that could lead is anybody’s guess, but the status quo is not leading anyone anywhere productive.

  • Dave

    I would think that if the powers-that-be provide designated sites for bonfires in the interest of public safety and watnot, then they can’t be accused of depriving people of what they regard as being an integral part of their culture if they acted to remove non-compliant bonfires. Other than that, the State has no business interfering in this area. It certainly shouldn’t interfere to censor bonfires from popular culture because its political elite think hiding the symptoms is the most expedient ‘cure.’

  • Dread Cthulhu

    oldruss: “Education might be one place, but sorting that quagmire out will be decades in the doing and forced integration has historically not worked (i.e. bussing in the States in the 1960’s onward for racial integration).”

    Not the best of examples — for example, Boston was horribly conflicted, but that was more a matter of a solution that liberal suburbs essentially imposed upon the city without accepting accountability for the solution, since they limited it to the city of Boston, so that their districts were protected from busing. In a real sense, while the residents of Southie and similar districts were unleashed upon the bused children, their anger was with the very white legislators, judges and bureaucrats who imposed them upon them.

    Dave: “I would think that if the powers-that-be provide designated sites for bonfires in the interest of public safety and watnot, then they can’t be accused of depriving people of what they regard as being an integral part of their culture if they acted to remove non-compliant bonfires. Other than that, the State has no business interfering in this area. It certainly shouldn’t interfere to censor bonfires from popular culture because its political elite think hiding the symptoms is the most expedient ‘cure.’ ”

    Bonfires should be subject to the whole regime of bureaucratic involvement, from fire safety, environmental protection (tires) and health (the other assorted shite that falls into some bonfires). A surety bond against damages should be a requirement, as is the involvement of the fire service.

    If you’re gonna live in quango land, at least make the quangos earn their pay

  • michael

    “12.I’ve had a go at discussing this on my blog, along with a closer photo of the Bishop’s portrait. ”

    I prefered the ‘Are Catholics Christians post’, when you pose the question, ‘refuse’ to answer your own question (for now apprently), then quote a book with some sort of statistic that apparently would lead people to the conclusion they are not.

    I know Anglicans are supposed to hold ‘a faint conviction’, but really, let your inner Jack Chick out man 😉

  • Dave

    DC, providing designated bonfire sites does require any more regulation than that. The slippery slope to full quango-isation is nonsense. Some folks regard dressing up as women or Judy Garland and marching down public streets on gay pride parades as culture and others regard bonfires as the same. At the end of the day, it is these groups who decide what is and what is not their culture. So the aim is to accommodate them, not ban them.

  • Gréagoir O Frainclín

    “I’m complaining to the police ombudsman. Here’s his email: info@policeombudsman.org

    I suggest others do likewise.”

    Good one. Well done Big Maggie!

  • oldruss

    Dave,
    The bonfires symbolize, for many, an “in your face” tradition, which hardly reduces tensions, and, to the contrary, exacerbates them. They may well be part and parcel of the “culture” of the six counties; but that culture is badly in need of redeffinition. If they can be limited to specific sites, and reduced in numbers proportionally, that might create a less contentious atmosphere in which other changes could be attempted. The bonfires are very visible symbols, which, if they were less intrusive, could be less of a pretext for those inclined to “stir the pot”.

    Dread Cthulhu, integration in education has largely been a futile and counter-productive effort here in the States. You are correct that Southie bore the brunt of the bussing in the 1960’s, and the lilly white suburbs surrounding Boston were spared, just as they were in most metropolitian areas, Cleveland, Detroit, etc. being examples.

    Intergration of the parallel school systems in the six counties could work towards creating a less contentious relationship among the next generation. I’m not familiar enough with the geography of the school systems in Belfast, for example, to know whether or not students from east Belfast would be bussed to west Belfast to accomplish intergration of controlled schools (Protestant) and maintained schools (Catholic). Nevertheless, even without the physical transfer of students by bus, just imposing integration in a unified system would be tramatic and fraught with land-mines, IMO.

    What I see is the current cycles of bonfires and marches all contributing to a ratcheting up of tensions; and would hope that there are those who can and will intervene to alter the status quo for the better, however that seems best accomplished by those most affected.

  • Iano

    Where are the environMENTALists to complain about the tyres on top of the bonfire?

  • Gréagoir O Frainclín

    Indeed, and where are the Christian fundaMENTALists to complain about the religous iconography on top of the bonfire?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    dave: “providing designated bonfire sites does require any more regulation than that. The slippery slope to full quango-isation is nonsense. Some folks regard dressing up as women or Judy Garland and marching down public streets on gay pride parades as culture and others regard bonfires as the same. At the end of the day, it is these groups who decide what is and what is not their culture. So the aim is to accommodate them, not ban them. ”

    I’m not talking banning them… I’m talking about holding the folks who build the bonfires accountable for the fire damage, environmental damage (burning tires, etc.), health violations (assorted other biological waste / garbage) and the like.

    I have no interest in banning the bonfires, but, that said, if they can’t handle a bonfire in a responsible fashion, there is no reason the rate-payers should have to pay to clean up after these nimrods when they damage their own estates with their idiocy.