Politicians have expressed concern about casual sectarianism in Northern Ireland after a series of offensive occurrences in both communities over the weekend.

Westminster MP Stephen Farry of Northern Ireland's Alliance Party said the incidents had shown that Northern Ireland has not done enough to build reconciliation and integration.

He said, “It is almost like we are seeing some form of casual sectarianism and it is particularly disturbing to see it manifesting through young people. We have had a real spate of these incidents over the summer and particularly this weekend.

“It does point to the fact that 25 years on from the Good Friday Agreement we have to have that sober lesson that we as a society haven’t done enough in terms of reconciliation and building integration.”

Appalling. Yet more manifestations of sectarianism.

This needs to be called out universally. https://t.co/GxpQrZgcEN

— Stephen Farry MP (@StephenFarryMP) August 15, 2022

Emma Little-Pengelly, a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) member of the Stormont Assembly, referring to incidents in west Belfast, said they did not reflect the Northern Ireland that people want in 2022.

She said, “All political leaders and all public representatives, no matter what side or community they come from, need to call out all forms of glorification of terrorism.

“They must agree that it must not happen and agree that there must be sensitivity for all victims.”

Following an image of Queen Elizabeth and other pro-loyalist images being placed on a nationalist bonfire in Derry, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney tweeted his condemnation. He said, “Whether in July or August, this kind of hatred is so far from the future we should be trying to build.”

Whether in July or August, this kind of hatred is so far from the future we should be trying to build.
To all volunteers, community workers, youth orgs. & others working for reconciliation & respect, this is an insult to your efforts. We will work harder with you for peace! https://t.co/jgiqsaPKn6

— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) August 16, 2022

The nationalist bonfire in Derry was lit a day after the loyalist Apprentice Boys held a parade to celebrate the Relief of Derry in 1689.

The families of 13 killed by British paratroopers on Bloody Sunday claimed paramilitary and Parachute Regiment insignia were sold at a parade side stall. But a spokesperson for the Apprentice Boys said the stall had nothing to do with the group.

John Kelly brother of Michael Kelly (17) condemning the selling of Para flags over the weekend in Derry. @JohnKelly1948 @derryjournal @FinucaneCentre @padraig_delargy @BrianTierney09 @MaeveMcLaughli1 @AdyKerr @decmclaughlin @RobinPercival2 @tonydutchdoc pic.twitter.com/6yD9rPUG17

— Museum of Free Derry bloodysunday50.com (@MuseumFreeDerry) August 15, 2022

Among other weekend incidents, Larne Football Club in Co Antrim announced on Monday it had suspended player John Herron after images emerged of him wearing a t-shirt with a pro-IRA slogan at a concert at the weekend.

Politicians also criticized a mural that showed a burning PSNI van with the slogan in Irish “the RUC are not welcome.” A representative for rap group Kneecap, which unveiled the controversial mural, described it to IrishCentral as “a piece of fine art.”

Kneecap's new mural in Belfast. (Courtesy of Kneecap)

Kneecap's new mural in Belfast. (Courtesy of Kneecap)

*This column first appeared in the August 17 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.