An effigy of former Sinn Fein member of parliament Michelle Gildernew was tied to a bonfire in Moygashel, County Tyrone, part of an Orangemen’s Day tradition. It appeared alongside a sign which read “Sinn Fein Scum, hands off our culture. Public hanging 10.30pm.”
This image appeared on the Moygashel Sons of Ulster flute band’s Facebook page. They had paraded to the location of the bonfire on Saturday (July 11).
On Twitter the public and politicians showed their anger saying they were “horrified” and “disgusted.”
People need to call it as it is. The hanging effigy at Moygashel of Michelle Gildernew is an implied death threat and act of intimidation.— Stephen Donnelly (@SteveDonnelly95) July 12, 2015
The Sinn Fein activist and former Agriculture Minister thanked her supporters on Twitter:
Public hanging of Michelle Gildernew on Moygashel Bonfire is not culture. It's a veiled death threat & raw bigotry. pic.twitter.com/zrjkaRLSsX— Barry McColgan (@BarryMcColgan) July 12, 2015
In a statement she called the act a hate crime and said the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) should investigate these type of incidents thoroughly.
I am deeply humbled and very grateful for the messages of support I've got from unionist and nationalist friends this evening, grma xo— Michelle Gildernew (@gildernewm) July 12, 2015
She said, “With that kind of leadership is it any wonder that these Neanderthals think this type of insult is part of their culture.
"The Orange Order also claims that bonfires are an important part of protestant culture and should be welcoming to families. How can these displays of naked sectarianism be welcoming to anyone?"
She added that if the Orange Order was sincere about wishing nationalists to respect their culture they need only “come out unambiguously in their condemnation of these hate crimes by assisting the PSNI in identifying those responsible.”
Effigies of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and hunger striker Bobby Sands appeared on Ballycraigy bonfire, in Antrim. The effigy of Sands was placed into a coffin structure.
He said, “Alliance has no issue with anyone celebrating their culture in a respectful and tolerant manner. However, placing Alliance posters on bonfires, as happened in East Belfast and East Antrim among other locations, as well as those from other parties and national flags, is neither respectful nor tolerant.”
He added, “We will be reporting this to the PSNI and asking the various Councils to investigate whether any supported bonfires breached guidelines by the presence of flags or posters.
“We must move away from this disgraceful behavior. This is not about being anti-bonfires but rather building a community where respect is paramount.”
"We have liaised with local community representatives in order to have material removed at many of these bonfires.
He added, "Where police are aware of a crime being committed, an investigation will follow.
“We would welcome the opportunity to speak to anyone who has information regarding these incidents.
"However, this is very much a community matter. It is about respect for each other and needs to have dialogue between the communities and their representatives in an effort to resolve this and to prevent it happening in the future," he added.
According to UTV news the Northern Ireland fire service was called to 52 fires in total as the country celebrated the Eleventh Night, the yearly loyalist event. Hundreds of bonfires were lit over the weekend. There were no injuries or damage to property reported.