“I felt like I’d been punched”: Alliance candidate on seeing his election posters on bonfires

The election poster which was placed at the top of the Craigyhill bonfire. INLT-29-703-con

The election poster which was placed at the top of the Craigyhill bonfire. INLT-29-703-con

In a letter to the Editor, Danny Donnelly, who was an Alliance Party candidate in the recent Assembly election, tells of his horror at seeing his election posters, featuring his picture, placed on top of two bonfires to be burnt on Eleventh Night in Larne.

“I felt like I’d been punched. I felt physically sick for several hours,” he writes.

The Alliance Party poster on the Linn Road bonfire on the Eleventh Night (top left). INLT-29-704-con

The Alliance Party poster on the Linn Road bonfire on the Eleventh Night (top left). INLT-29-704-con

Mr Donnelly also expresses his hope that: “We’ve come a long way in Northern Ireland, but I believe we can go further and consign this twisted, ugly behaviour to the past, where it belongs.

He continues: “As I was driving to work on the Monday July 11 I drove past a local bonfire and I was shocked and horrified to see my face at the top of it.

“I have lived in Larne most of my life. I have friends and family here.

“There are generations of my family buried in the town cemetery and I chose to bring my children up here in my hometown too.

“To see my face and family name targeted to be incinerated for the entertainment of people on the 11th night chilled me to the bone.

“I have seen pictures and effigies of the pope, Sinn Fein politicians, Celtic football tops and Irish tricolours all atop bonfires over the years but I never expected to see myself there.

“The reason for this is that I was an election candidate recently for the Alliance party. I stood for election because I wanted to work to improve the town for all of us.

“I believe in a shared, peaceful and prosperous future for NI and that Alliance Party policies like support for integrated education can help to bring it about.

“Apparently that is enough to secure a place on top of an 11th night bonfire.

“I understand that bonfires are important to unionist culture but the burning of flags, election posters, religious items or anything deliberately placed there to offend is a hugely disrespectful and hurtful thing to do.

“I would like to urge bonfire builders in future to refrain from this offensive behaviour and to encourage people not to attend events where these items are burned,” he concluded.