The Bogside bonfire which saw everything from Union Flags to poppy wreaths burnt last week was a disgrace, and a serious challenge to us all.
It came at the end of a week when Sinn Féin had been busy trying to look moderate, talking up the maintenance of the British identity in a United Ireland. Frankly, a little like maintenance of a frictionless border outside the EU Customs Union, these things are easier wished in theory than delivered in practice. Shocking proof was soon apparent in the form of a night of gratuitous offensiveness.
No doubt Sinn Féin’s defence would be that it was not its bonfire. This is irrelevant. It may add that it condemned the burning of flags and that, in fairness, is true. Nevertheless, they have contributed to a society in which a large group of Irish Republicans went out of their way to burn things which are cherished by their fellow citizens (those also being their would-be fellow citizens in any United Ireland).
It is of course a little rich to hear condemnation of this from Unionists who failed to challenge condemn similar outrages in July or indeed who cannot understand that Health and Safety law should apply equally to everyone equally including Loyalists. However, condemnation from Progressives was rightly swift, and questions should continue to be asked about how such an event came to take place and how anyone at all thought it was a good idea and a positive experience.
The Bogside bonfire was a disgusting festival of hatred. Work is required, not least from the new MP for the area, to ensure it never recurs.