THE burning of a bonfire in Ballymena’s Ballykeel One area has been condemned.
TUV councillor Matthew Armstrong said: “In 2019, after years of having the republican movement lecture unionists on equality, respect and shared spaces, you’d imagine that our opponents would have better things to do at 4 in the morning than maliciously ruin the hard work of so many young people within the Ballykeel estate.
“This latest provocation is unacceptable, and I hope that the people who have put so much time and effort into creating a positive community spirit can regroup and come back bigger and stronger before the big day. I am more than willing to help where I can in this endeavour.”
Independent councillor Rodney Quigley said: “It’s sad that in today’s society some people can’t respect other people’s culture and feel the need to attack it.
“The Ballykeel bonfire lads have put a lot of hard work into making the area around the fire one of the tidiest about and have engaged with community groups to help promote their cultural in a positive way.
“To the people who done this I say “take a long hard look at yourselves and ask where do you fit into today’s society” I’ve every confidence that this fire will be rebuilt bigger and better…shame on those who did this.”
Ballymena & Districts Ulster Political Research group said the burnt bonfire was “so sad to see after all the hard work that was put into it.”
Their statement on Facebook added: “This is SF IRA at their best. Sneaking about in the dark. Doing what they do best. This is SF IRA’S shared space and equality. This is an attack on our community, but already we are pulling together. This page has been given assurance that there will be a bonfire on the 11th of July. NO SURRENDER.”