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Unionist fury as bonfire prematurely set alight in 'blatant sectarian attack'

A local councillor said the incident would 'raise tensions' in the area

Niamh Campbell

A bonfire has been prematurely set alight in Portadown during the early hours of Thursday morning, in what DUP MP Carla Lockhart has claimed to be “a blatant sectarian attack”.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) attended the Edgarstown bonfire site to extinguish the blaze, which is understood to have happened some time around midnight.

Local councillor Darryn Causby said that the bonfire was set alight by “individuals who made their way from the Obins Street area”.

“This is no doubt an attempt to raise tensions and shows the level of intolerance that exists in some quarters for Unionist/Loyalist traditions,” he posted on Facebook.

"I wholeheartedly condemn this attack not only because it’s an attempt to raise tension but because it put the community at risk. As we approach the bonfire season I appeal for calm and restraint in the face of blatant provocation.

“I have no doubt that the malicious burning of this fire will only ensure that there is a greater unity within the Unionist/Loyalist community.

“It is now time for all political leaders to condemn this act and appeal for calm.”

Ms Lockhart added: “I wholeheartedly condemn this attack and call on the PSNI to fully investigate this incident. I will be meeting the PSNI and the builders today.

“We know this is an attempt to goad the loyalist community into retaliation and to scupper our rich culture. I know that the Edgarstown people will not be deterred and it will be rebuilt within days.

“Thank you to the Northern Ireland Fire Service for their swift action.”

The PSNI and NIFRS have been contacted for further details.

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