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06th Jun 2022

Calls for Northern politicians to do more to tackle sectarianism and misogyny

Katy Brennan

“Bitterness and hatred really has no place in the modern Northern Ireland.”

Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister Naomi Long has said politicians should do more to tackle sectarianism and misogyny in the North.

It comes after a recent viral video showing a group of people mocking the murder of Michaela McAreavey, which Ms Long called a reminder of the “deep cancer of sectarianism”.

The video, which circulated on social media on Friday, received widespread criticism.

She said: “Perhaps it is also an opportunity for us to reflect more widely on the values that we hold as a society because when I saw the video, it’s a reminder that there is a deep cancer of sectarianism at the heart of our society.

“We need to root that out because that kind of bitterness and hatred really has no place in the modern Northern Ireland and we need to move beyond that and be our best selves rather than constantly reverting to this kind of behaviour, or having that small minority who behave in this way constantly dragging us back.

“I think we do need to reflect as politicians as to what more we can do to try to tackle sectarianism and misogyny in our society.

“Obviously there’s still a problem if in this day and age relatively young people are engaged in such a horrendous breach of any kind of decency.

“I think that’s something we need to show leadership on not just the one issue, but for the long term.”

She went on to say the reaction to the video showed how people were “sickened to their absolute core”.

“I think that the mixture of sectarianism and misogyny in that clip was a shock to many of us who have become, in some ways, hardened to these issues because we have rarely seen I think anything quite so disgusting,” she told BBC NI Sunday Politics show.

Michaela McAreavey was strangled in her room at the Legends Hotel in Mauritius while on honeymoon on 10 January, 2011, after marrying footballer John McAreavey.

To this day, no one has been convicted of her murder.

Three of the men who apologised for their involvement in the incident captured on video last week have now expressed concern about being subject to a “public witch hunt”.

In a statement the men, who have resigned from the Orange Order, said they feel “complete shame and regret for their involvement”.