‘Sectarian bigotry must be eradicated’ - Kearney
'Rogue' bonfires and the sectarianism surrounding them demonstrate the ongoing need to eradicate bigotry and intolerance from our society, Sinn Féin’s National Chairperson has said.
Writing in his latest blog, Declan Kearney MLA also called on political unionism to do more to confront intolerance and support the development of a reconciliation process.
“'Rogue bonfires are not culture,” he writes. “They indoctrinate sectarian hatred and communal division. They cause untold levels of damage to the environment; threaten public health; endanger nearby property; and cause widespread community disruption.
“The Orange tradition is an integral part of Irish society. It deserves to be respected and affirmed. However, those who choose to celebrate that tradition on the 11th and 12th July and throughout the summer must do so responsibly, lawfully, and without giving offence, or causing destruction and, or, disruption.
“The failure of the unionist parties’ leaderships to disassociate themselves from ‘rogue’ bonfires and to publicly call for them to be stopped is a disgraceful abdication of responsibility.”
Declan Kearney continued: “We believe that anti-sectarianism must be embraced by all sections of our community and should be at the heart of a rights based approach to government in the North. Sinn Féin has published proposals which argue for:
a legal definition of sectarianism as a hate crime;
an anti-sectarian pledge for Executive ministers, MLAs and all other publicly elected representatives;
a citizens anti-sectarian charter;
concrete anti-sectarian measures within the next Programme for Government;
And, anti-sectarian priorities to be implemented by the next Executive Office.
“Such an approach would be the practical manifestation of the Good Friday Agreement, which set out the requirement that all citizens have ‘the right to live free from sectarian harassment’.
“Sinn Féin believes that the complete eradication of sectarianism and sectarian segregation in our society is essential to political progress and building a shared future.”