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North’s justice minister calls on politicians to do more to tackle sectarianism and misogyny

admin | June 5, 2022
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Northern Ireland’s justice minister has said politicians must reflect on what more can be done to stamp out and tackle sectarianism and misogyny in the North. Naomi Long said a video showing a group of people mocking the murder of Michaela McAreavey was a reminder of a “deep cancer of sectarianism” at the heart of Northern Ireland’s society. The video, which emerged on social media on Friday, has received widespread condemnation from across Northern Ireland and beyond, as well as across the political spectrum. The Alliance Party leader 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. John and Michaela McAreavey during their honeymoon (Family handout/PA) “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.” Mrs McAreavey (27) was strangled in her room at the Legends Hotel in Mauritius on January 10th, 2011. The teacher, who had married John 10 days earlier, was attacked after she returned to her room alone and disturbed a burglary. Michaela was a vessel of love, courage and dignity.Hate can hurt, but never win. ♥️ — John McAreavey (@john_mcareavey) June 3, 2022 No-one has been convicted of murdering the daughter of GAA manager Mickey Harte. In the social media video, a number of men appear to sing about the killing. The video is now subject of a number of investigations, including by the PSNI. Ms Long said she spoke to chief constable Simon Byrne who reassured her that the PSNI is looking at the video to determine if any offence has been committed. The video has been widely condemned across the political landscape. Ms Long said the reaction to the video was a reflection of 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. Having seen the utterly vile and depraved video of those revelling in the murder of Michaela McAreevy, I feel sick. This gratuitous sectarian hatred is a cancer in our society that needs rooted out. I’ve raised it with @ChiefConPSNI and will also be raising it with #GOLI.#shame — Naomi Long MLA (@naomi_long) June 3, 2022 She added: “This wasn’t a one off, this wasn’t one person saying something that no one else had heard. “This is a room full of people and a number of them were singing a song that they clearly knew the words to and had sung before. “I think that the idea that this has been going on if you like, behind closed doors for some time, actually really horrified people. “I think that’s something, from my perspective (that) certainly shocked me and there didn’t seem to be anyone, certainly not in that clip, who intervened to stop it either which again begs questions as to just how routine this kind of behaviour is. “We’ve seen it before in other circumstances, but I just think mocking people who are dead is a real low point in terms of how we interact with each other. “It has, sadly, I think, overshadowed what generally has been a very positive period for Northern Ireland in terms of all of the other things that have been going on over the weekend. All the positive community engagement.” On Saturday it was confirmed that Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has launched an internal investigation over an employee’s alleged involvement in the video. The council said they will treat the matter with the “utmost seriousness”. Hours after the video emerged, two men apologised for their involvement, while Linfield Football Club sacked a club volunteer allegedly involved in the video. Construction supplies company Norman Emerson Group also issued a statement to say it was looking into the alleged involvement of an employee and said a “full and thorough internal investigation” is under way. The Orange Order said an inquiry into the video had started.

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