PSNI probe threatening graffiti at republican bonfire site

PSNI probe threatening graffiti at republican bonfire site

Concern has been voiced about the appearance of threatening graffiti at a republican bonfire site in north Belfast.

The graffiti, daubed on a wall close to the pyre in the New Lodge area, warns that if the wood is removed a nearby community centre will targeted.

The bonfire is due to be lit on the night of August 8 to mark the anniversary of the introduction of the controversial policy of internment on August 9, 1971.

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker said people in the New Lodge do not want the bonfire.

"If there are threats made towards anybody, the job of police is to keep people safe, to ensure that these threats are investigated and also people are being protected, particularly buildings which are an important resource to the New Lodge, there's a family centre there," he told the BBC Nolan Show.

"There are serious concerns around the level of threat here, serious concerns in terms of the level of criminality, and when that happens no one can deal with that, only the police.

"I will be speaking to police today to see what they plan on doing."

Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin called for the removal of the bonfire.

She said the bonfire "isn't wanted" and should be removed, and "all the criminal behaviour needs dealt with".

PSNI Chief Inspector Kelly Moore said police are investigating the graffiti.

"Just before 8am yesterday we received a report about graffiti which has been painted on the walls of a property in the Queens Parade area of north Belfast some time overnight," she said.

"Officers are currently investigating and I would ask anyone with any information to contact us on 101 quoting reference number 267 06/08/19."

The situation comes weeks after a row over a loyalist bonfire in east Belfast.

Belfast City Council voted to remove the July 11 pyre in the car park of Avoniel Leisure Centre.

However no action was taken after graffiti appeared threatening the contractors tasked with removing the bonfire.

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