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A community demonised, but lost message of Twelfth was that it was a successful day

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With grim irony, the deluge of toxicity directed at unionists this week was a largely self-inflicted injury, aided by a few unrepresentative, stupid and hate-filled individuals.

Politicians and community leaders condemned the outrages at bonfires but by failing to prevent them, they have once again let down those they work for.

At a stroke, a Twelfth memorable for notable positives — which I shall come to — became an opportunity to demonise the entire unionist community thanks to a few morons.

The burning of flags and election posters on a few bonfires was lamentable enough, but those responsible for the disgusting effigies of Alliance leader Naomi Long and Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill on the Glenfield bonfire in Carrickfergus scored a truly revolting own-goal. What a distressing image for those women and their families to see.

Unionist friends frequently complain that their identity gets belittled but, seriously, right now who’d feel comfortable walking into a shared workspace and talking about the great day out they enjoyed on the Twelfth? Try nuancing that didn’t happen at your bonfire or actually you never go to a bonfire or that only 15 out of upwards of 250 bonfires are contentious.

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Those who dislike unionism have had — no pun intended — a field day, casting aspersions without context.

The lost message of July 12, 2022, was that it........

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