A socialist TD has accused DUP MP Gregory Campbell of beating the “sectarian drum” with his claim, earlier this year, that the erection of Parachute Regiment flags in Derry during the 46th anniversary of Bloody Sunday was likely “a reaction” to nationalist provocation.
Mick Barry, who sits with the Solidarity-People Before Profit bloc in the Dáil, condemned what he characterised as the increasing sectarian polarisation of politics in the North.
Speaking in the Dáil he blamed the DUP and Sinn Féin for perpetuating division and singled out Mr. Campbell for criticism.
“Both parties have continued to beat the sectarian drum,” said Deputy Barry.
“The most naked reflections of this sectarianism can been seen in the comments of the DUP’s Gregory Campbell in defending the erection of Parachute Regiment flags outside Derry in the run-up to the anniversary of the Bloody Sunday massacre and in the sectarian buffoonery of Sinn Féin’s Barry McElduff, whose video on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre caused widespread anger across both communities,” he said.
His comments were in response to Mr. Campbell’s claim that flags erected in Newbuildings in January were put up by a minority in retaliation to the burning of loyalist emblems in nationalist areas.
Mr. Campbell said: “I don’t know about this occasion, but on previous occasions what has happened is that a small number of individuals have put up Parachute Regiment flags and they were in response to something that was done either in the Bogside or around bonfires or around parades, such as the 12th of August.
"Normally there is a reaction. But I think what does need to happen is that political representatives on either side need to do whatever we all can to try and defuse and deescalate tensions, whether it is putting up banners and flags or provocative signs on bonfires as has happened in the past, or any type of flags that people might take offence to.”