Leadership Required to Tackle Sectarianism

I condemn those who put a coffin bearing the image of the late Martin McGuinness on an east Belfast bonfire. This is a blatant display of hatred and bigotry which propagates sectarianism in our country.

If there is one thing that Martin McGuinness showed us, it was how to accept and embrace those with different opinions, creeds, and cultures from ours. He showed us the importance of reaching out and of the reconciliation phase of the peace process.

It is not acceptable that unionist politicians fail to show leadership in refusing to condemn this hate crime. Through being guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement the British Government and Irish Government have a legal obligation to ensure that the elements of that Agreement and other agreements are fulfilled, because it serves to tackle all these hate crimes.

I hope also that those in the South who make little and seek to score cheap political points on the back of Sinn Féin’s insistence on equality and parity of esteem in underpinning the political institutions will now have a deeper understanding that these political institutions cannot hope to serve the people of the North if they are built on a sandpit of inequality and sectarianism.