Mock police car burned on top of bonfire

The Bonfire was lit near Dungannon on Wednesday

By Cillian Sherlock (PA)

A mock police car has been burned on top of a bonfire in Co Tyrone.

Bonfires are set to be lit at an estimated 300 locations in loyalist areas across Northern Ireland for the annual July 11 commemorations before thousands of Orange Order members take part in marches on July 12.

One of the first bonfires to be lit was in a yard in the area in Moygashel, near Dungannon, on Wednesday night.

Hundreds of pallets were placed in a cylindrical tower to create the structure.

A Vauxhall car decorated like a PSNI vehicle was placed on top of the bonfire prior to the burning.

The bonfire was also adorned with an Irish tricolour flag and a banner reading “Saoirse don Phalaistin” – an Irish phrase for Freedom for Palestine.

Hundreds of people gathered to watch the towering pyre burn.

The unstable structure quickly toppled over into some trees.

Kenny Donaldson, director of the South East Fermanagh Foundation victims’ group, said the burning of the fake police car was “wrong on every level”, as he rejected an assertion that it represented artistic expression.

Mr Donaldson said: “Some will claim that this is just a bit of crack and that those who have issues with it are way too sensitive or motivated by anti-Protestant/unionist cultural bias.

“Let us be clear why we oppose this action: each and every member of the PSNI puts their life on the line each and every day within a society where there remains individuals committed to murdering them.”

Mr Donaldson paid respect to the families of murdered PSNI officers Stephen Carroll and Ronan Kerr, as well as those who had survived attempts on their life, including Peadar Heffron and John Caldwell.

He added: “Those who stand by this development and do not speak out against it are complicit with this terrible misjudgment which has caused hurt and bewilderment amongst the police community and amongst many others.”

It is not the first time a bonfire in the area has attracted significant attention.

In 2023, a boat was placed on top of the pyre in Moygashel, themed as an anti-Northern Ireland Protocol bonfire.

The vessel was to represent unionist and loyalist communities’ opposition to post-Brexit trading arrangements across the Irish Sea.

The boat was adorned with an Irish flag, a picture of then-taoiseach Leo Varadkar and a banner that read: “Good Friday Agreement? That ship has sailed.”

A mock police car isis set alight on top of a Bonfire in Moygashel near Dungannon (Photo by PA)

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