Long calls for hate crime clarification

Alliance Councillor Michael Long has called for clarification around what the police treat as hate crimes after being told the burning of election posters is not considered one, despite legislation stating the opposite.

East Belfast Councillor Mr Long was speaking after meeting with PSNI to discuss recent actions by those behind some bonfires across Northern Ireland, when they placed election posters from several Alliance candidates, as well as from other parties, onto the structures before setting them ablaze.

However, Councillor Long said he was informed by police that burning such images was not a hate crime, despite the PSNI’s own website stating ‘incidents committed against a person or property on the grounds of someone’s political opinion’ was.

“While this confusion remains, there appears to be no appetite from the PSNI to tackle the issue of burning images on bonfires. We need clarification and more importantly, so do police officers. To steal election posters during the election campaign should be seen as a crime and then using them on a bonfire afterwards only adds to that.

“Alliance has no issue with people celebrating their culture in a respectful manner, but the adding of election posters, as well as national flags, to a number of bonfires year on year removes any semblance of tolerance. To do so is nothing less than an attack on democracy and it is an issue we will continue to raise and seek resolution on.”

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