‘Tensions high’ as second bonfire set alight

Bonfire at Killicomaine was set alight
Bonfire at Killicomaine was set alight

A second bonfire has been set alight in Portadown which some politicians feel is an attempt to ignite tensions in the area.

The NI Fire and Rescue Service were called to the bonfire in Killicomaine at around 5am this morning and managed to quell the flames quickly.

DUP Cllr Margaret Tinsley said bonfire builders were on the site until 4.30am and it was soon after this that the bonfire was set alight.

“It has caused minor damage and the builders have all vowed to restore the site.”

Last week the bonfire in Edenderry was lit in an apparent arson attack.

DUP Cllr Darryn Causby said there was anger in the community but he appealed for calm.

“It is very concerning. This is an attack on cultural expression in the unionist community.

“These are deliberate attacks to raise tensions. I am pleading with them to stop.

“Lots of work has taken place on the ground to try to move things on in Portadown.

“I would like to see politicians across the political spectrum condemning these attacks. We hope to see a peaceful summer. But I think this is going to increase the level of tension in the community.”

Cllr Tinsely said she was gutted for the guys who put so much effort into building the bonfires .

“However the community has united to help each other through this. People have come from outside their areas to lend a helping hand to rebuild our bonfires.

“I hope everyone keeps a steady head and there won’t be any tit for tat attacks. While there is a lot of anger, these attacks have united the community.”

DUP MLA Jonny Buckley said it is becoming a great concern to all in the community regarding the latest attacks on bonfires in the Portadown area.

“These acts are a senseless and deliberate provocation to the local community who take great pride in the cultureal expression at this time of the year.

“With this in mind, I am meeting with senior police tomorrow (Tuesday) to ask that added police resources be allocated to the Co Armagh area with increased patrols to ensure that our bonfires and Orange Halls are protected.”

“I would encourage everyone to stay calm and let the police do their job,” he said, adding that he condemned the attack on the man in Bridge Street on Sunday.

Councillor David Jones described the attacks as ‘totally unjustified’.

“Over this past few weeks I have heard Sinn Fein and Nationalist politicians once again complaining about flags and buntings in our towns while themselves ignoring the fact tri-colours and other flags have been on display in nationalist areas for sometime.

“This has now taken the somewhat dangerous move to bonfires being set alight in Portadown. One must ask the question while Nationalists and republicans demand respect, when will they start to show some respect for Protestant, unionist and loyalist culture? Sadly recent events show we are not close to that.”

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police are appealing for information following a report that a bonfire in the Festival Road, Killycomain, Portadown had been set on fire.

“It is believed that this occurred shortly before 6.00am this morning, Monday, 2 July.

“Inspector Leslie Badger would appeal to anyone who noticed any suspicious activity or vehicles in the area or anyone who has information that could assist police with their enquiries to contact police at Lurgan on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference 214 02/07/18. Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”

It is understood police are still working to establish a motive for this bonfire attack.