‘Vile sectarian abuse’ directed at loyalist bandsman’s children

The online sectarian abuse of a loyalist band member and his young sons has been condemned by Northern Ireland’s justice minister as “completely vile and unacceptable”.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 4:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 9:46 am
South Belfast Young Conquerors Flute Band. Photo: Stephen Hamilton  / Press Eye
South Belfast Young Conquerors Flute Band. Photo: Stephen Hamilton / Press Eye

Naomi Long said she believed the comments on posted Twitter at the weekend are severe enough to justify police attention.

The band member had posted an image of himself with his two young sons in band uniform – aged 10 and two – along with the message: “The definition of tradition: the transmission of customs and beliefs from generation to generation.”

He was then subjected to a tirade of abuse that included one person who said: “Might be 3 but he’s still a little orange ****. Hope his lodge burns down and if they 3 are in it, well that’s just a bonus”.

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Having posted those abusive comments under the username Martin Lee, that account now appears to have been deleted or suspended.

It is understood the bandsman, a member of the South Belfast Young Conquerors, is considering reporting the incident to police as a sectarian hate crime.

Naomi Long tweeted her disgust at the Martin Lee message.

She said: “Completely vile and unacceptable sectarian abuse. There is no place for this kind of hatred in our community.

“I hope the account has been reported, not only to Twitter but to the police.”

Other abuse followed, including one person who said: “You are a terrible parent. You should be ashamed of yourself teaching your sons to be a bigot”.

Another said: “What a grotesque image.”

Responding to the abuse of the bandsman and his sons, east Belfast loyalist Moore Holmes said he has concerns about the “culture of unaccountability” on sites such as Twitter.

“A pile on of disgusting hate-filled bigotry descended upon a Loyalist for sharing a picture of himself & his children at a band parade.

“This culture of unaccountability on social media needs challenged”.

Another loyalist social media account – Her Loyal Voice – tweeted: “We all need to work towards ending anti-PUL (Protestant/unionist/loyalist) bigotry. It is quite simply sectarianism.

“It’s time to describe the hate we are experiencing, define it and push back against it by labelling those who perpetrate it.”

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International NI described the abuse as “vile” and “sickening”.

Alliance councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown tweeted his response, saying: “That’s appallingly bigoted – what an anti-human thing to say.”

His party colleague, Castlereagh councillor Sharon Lowry described the Twitter abuse as “pure evil”.

Cllr Lowry said:“This is absolutely vile. People should be free to participate in their culture without this disgusting sectarian abuse and aimed at a little boy too. Pure evil.”

Among the hundreds of responses the abuse generated, many were from nationalists.

One said: “He doesn’t represent nationalists who are utterly appalled by that tweet #notinmyname.”

Another added: “No one should be wishing death on another, regardless of background, ever.”

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Police received a report around 5.20pm on Monday 14 June relating to comments made on a social media platform and enquiries are ongoing.”

Earlier, the PSNI said: “Police would also take this opportunity to remind social media users that they are personally responsible for the content they post on social media and should be mindful of the potential for committing a criminal offence.”

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