Unionists have defended two DUP councillors criticized for taking photos in front of a bonfire burning the Irish national flag.

Margaret Tinsley, the deputy lord mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, posted photos of herself and her husband James Tinsley, a Lisburn and Castelreagh councillor, in front of the traditional July 1 bonfire at Edenberry in Portadown, Co Armagh on Monday, The Belfast Telegraph reports.

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“Brilliant bonfire. Well done to all the volunteers. Always a great start to the July celebrations,” she posted on Facebook following the commemorative bonfire which is part of the Twelfth of July celebrations, according to TheJournal.ie.

Sinn Féin councillor Keith Haughian has described the photos as “absolutely unacceptable.”

"It's absolutely unacceptable that the deputy mayor and another DUP councillor posed for photos in front of a bonfire in Edenderry in which the Irish national flag was clearly being burned," he said.

"The deputy mayor is supposed to represent everyone in the borough, but glorifying this type of activity is deeply offensive to large sections of our society.

"Burning of flags, posters and effigies on bonfires is wrong and have been rightly described by the PSNI as hate crimes. I'm calling on the DUP to show leadership on these bonfires and to explain the actions of their elected representatives.

Publiée par Margaret Tinsley sur Lundi 1 juillet 2019

"Do they think the burning of the Irish national flag is acceptable or will they condemn this display of hate and discipline the party members involved?"

In response, a DUP spokesperson said: "Councillor Margaret Tinsley attended the events in her own capacity and not as deputy mayor for Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon, with Alderman James Tinsley.

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"The DUP have been clear in the past that culture is not the burning of flags or posters. Sinn Fein are not in the position to lecture when it comes to commemorative events within their own community.

"Respect for each other's culture works both ways. Both communities should work to express culture in a dignified way."