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'Offensive and embarrassing': Coveney criticises McDonald for posing beside anti-English sign at parade

In response, Sinn Féin said the partition of Ireland is “divisive and offensive”.

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY has criticised Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald for posing beside an anti-English banner at the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York.

Sinn Féin yesterday shared images of McDonald standing beside a number of banners at the parade, including one which read: ‘England Get Out Of Ireland’.

The banner, or a variation of it, has been the only political banner allowed in the parade for decades.

Coveney was not impressed, this morning tweeting that the gesture was “offensive, divisive and an embarrassment”.

“Grow up, this is NOT Ireland in 2019! We are better than this!,” he wrote.

The DUP also took offence to the image, saying it sums up Sinn Féin’s “attitude to explanations, truth and respect”.

Derry MP Gregory Campbell said: “When slogans such as “Brits out” or “England out of Ireland” are used the unionist community are well within their rights to see themselves as the intended focus.

“The ‘British presence in Ireland’ is the unionist population in Northern Ireland.”

In response, a spokesperson for Sinn Féin told TheJournal.ie: “The most divisive and offensive act on this island for almost the last 100 years has been the partition of Ireland.

It should come as no surprise that Sinn Féin wants a new united Ireland under the provisions of Good Friday Agreement. The faux outrage of some of our political opponents owes more to the silly season of a holiday weekend and petty political point scoring.

“However if Simon Coveney and the government is serious about achieving a new and agreed united Ireland then he should immediately convene an all-Ireland forum on Irish unity.”

The party has recently stepped up calls for a border poll as Brexit negotiations continue, noting the negative impacts Britain leaving the European Union could have in Northern Ireland.

Opinion polls have shown that the majority of people in the Republic want a border poll in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and that six in 10 people want to see a united Ireland in their lifetime.

However, others fear holding a poll in the near future would only intensify divisions in Northern Ireland, which has been without a devolved government since January 2017.

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Órla Ryan

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