POLICE in Northern Ireland are treating a banner daubed with the slogan ‘No Irish No Gay’ that appeared above a motorway as a hate crime.
The banner was hung from a bridge between junctions 9 and 10 of the eastbound lane of the M1 between Lurgan in Co. Armagh and Moira in Co. Down on Friday.
Police have now removed the banner but said they are treating the matter a ‘hate incident with a racial and homophobic motive’.
Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney said the DUP, which is opposed to same-sex marriage, had emboldened those behind the banner.
“It is reprehensible in this day and age that someone would erect such a sign,” said the South Antrim MLA.
Oh dear. Hate mongers at their work again. This anti-Irish, homophobic banner has appeared on the M1 between junction 10 (Oxford Island) and junction 9 (International Airport). I can’t see this taking off tbh. Just not as catchy as: No woman, no cry! pic.twitter.com/eCbulue8hm
— Amanda Ferguson (@AmandaFBelfast) 19 October 2018
“However, it is not surprising. This racist and homophobic action is a direct consequence of the failure in leadership specifically within the DUP, and political unionism more generally.”
He added: “If the DUP and others will not end their denial of rights, then the Irish and British governments must act to deliver on citizens’ rights in this state.
“The denial of parity of esteem to Irish citizens in the north, and equality for the LGBT community should be addressed as a priority at the next meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.”
'Spray can warriors'
SDLP MLA Pat Catney also blasted the ‘despicable’ banner.
“For too long anti-Irish rhetoric was deemed acceptable across these islands,” said the Lagan Valley MLA.
“These days are long gone and despite the best efforts of some, they aren’t coming back.
“Likewise, spray can warriors will not hold back the progression of LGBT+ rights here in the North.
“These views are not representative of the majority of people in Northern Ireland and they will not be tolerated.”
Police have asked anyone with information to contact officers at Lurgan on 101 quoting reference number 516 of 19/10/18.