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Bonfire with ‘police car’ on top branded ‘pathetic’ by UUP leader while Jamie Bryson defends ‘edgy art’



Bonfire with ‘police car’ on top branded ‘pathetic’ by UUP leader while Jamie Bryson defends ‘edgy art’

On Tuesday evening, images emerged of a 1.3 tonne silver Vauxhall Vectra decorated in police livery on top of the pyre in Moygashel.

The bonfire, sitting around 150 pallets high, has been widely condemned for its ‘toppers’ in recent years.

In a comment shared on social media, Doug Beattie said: “This is absolutely disgraceful. Those responsible undermine their own cries for cultural respect.

“Truly pathetic.”

Watch: Police car on top of Northern Ireland bonfire

But loyalist activist Jamie Bryson, who addressed a crowd at the bonfire in 2023, said: “I think this is a bit of edgy artistic expression, a bit like, for example, Kneecap.

“If that type of expression is welcome from the nationalist community, then I see no reason why similar unionist efforts would not draw similar applause unless of course there are double standards.

When asked about his appearance at the controversial pyre last year, Mr Bryson said: “I was delighted to be guest speaker at Moygashel last year, when they displayed a very topical message about the Belfast Agreement. That message is as relevant today as it was then.

“I do find it more than mildly amusing that they’ve managed to place a full-sized police car on top of a bonfire, having first appropriated the wheels.

“I’d imagine their artistic message this year also seeks to emphasise a two-tier policing message.”

Speaking in March 2024, Chief Constable Jon Boutcher strongly rejected suggestions that there is “two-tier policing” in the PSNI.

A police car on top of the Moygashel Bonfire

An Irish tricolour and a poster of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar were placed on top of the loyalist bonfire in 2023.

The large pyre in Moygashel also attracted major attention after a boat was mysteriously placed on it bearing a banner reading “Good Friday Agreement? That ship has sailed”.

A mock copy of the 1998 peace deal with the words “null and void” printed over was also added.

A crowd of around 400 people gathered to watch the bonfire which was condemned widely by politicians.

Speaking after the bonfire in 2023, a spokesman said: “Our culture is under attack on a daily basis, and if not resisted with everything in our power, our Britishness will become unrecognisable.

“Our cultural celebrations that we have grown to enjoy with our families will be demonised to the point of extinction.

“The bonfire boat and our efforts are to highlight our strong opposition to the Irish Sea border.

“We believe that the implementation of the Union-dismantling protocol aligns our economy with the South and is a process of transition towards a united Ireland.

“Loyalist anger is at breaking point and we hope to see a peaceful [resolution] to the situation before it is too late. We fear time is running out.”

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