Police in Northern Ireland are investigating the use of an effigy of Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O'Neill on bonfire in Co Tyrone.
The effigy was burned alongside two Irish flags and a 1916 Society flag. It is being treated as a hate crime by police in Northern Ireland.
Freelance journalist Amanda Ferguson told Breakfast Briefing 34 of the 177 emergency calls made last night were bonfire-related, with several reported to the police for “hate crime incidents”.
Another effigy of Sinn Féin Councillor Taylor McGrann was burned in his constituency of Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough, referring to him as “scum”.
Ms Ferguson said while many bonfires are family-friendly events, “good old-fashioned sectarianism” is also seen at several bonfires.
“Every year, we hear unionist politicians urging loyalists not to place items like that on bonfires, saying it’s not a cultural celebration if that kind of activity takes place,” she said.
Bonfires were lit in memory of Sam Dickson, a notable marching band figure in Northern Ireland who died in January.
“Loyalists are keen to promote this time of year as ‘Orange Fest’, a festival of culture – but it is difficult for people to understand that when the burning of flags, symbols and effigies takes place.”
Up to half a million people are expected to take part in July 12th marches across Northern Ireland following the lighting of bonfires last night.
Up to 600 marching bands will participate at various locations to commemorate the 333rd anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.