Sinn Fein has been accused of glorifying terrorism and ‘weaponising’ the Irish language for selling a badge in the shape of an armalite rifle bearing the republican slogan ‘Tiocfaidh ár lá’.
DUP MLA Peter Weir called on Sinn Fein to remove the badge from sale via their online merchandise shop.
At the time of writing, the badge was available from sinnfeinbookshop.com for £4.42.
Mr Weir also questioned the new Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald’s claim that her use of the slogan ‘Tiocfaidh ár lá’, meaning ‘our day will come’ in reference to a potential united Ireland, was an attempt to “reclaim language”.
The Sinn Fein president came in for criticism for her use of the phrase, which is often associated with the Provisional IRA’s campaign of violence, at the end of her first speech as party president.
She later defended her remark, telling RTE’s Late Late Show: “If language carries a negative connotation, you reclaim it. The last place I want any of us to go to, is the past.”
Mr Weir said the fact that Sinn Fein has an armalite-shaped badge for sale carrying the same slogan shows that her claim does not stand up.
“Mary Lou McDonald’s claim that shouting IRA slogans is some attempt to ‘reclaim language’ is not only insulting but doesn’t stand up to basic scrutiny,” he said.
“Sinn Fein should explain how offering ‘Tiochfaidh Ár Lá’ badges in the shape of an Armalite rifle ‘reclaims language’?
“Evidently, the new president of Sinn Fein is more focused on tipping her hat to the republican backwoodsmen than on showing respect to victims of PIRA terrorism.”
He added: “Sinn Fein weaponised the Irish language.
“The choice to shape the words in the image of a rifle was a deliberate one. Despite her words Mary Lou and her party are happy to wallow in the past. Yet again it is a case of Sinn Fein believing they can operate to different standards than they demand of everyone else.”
A Sinn Fein spokesperson said: “This is more distraction politics from Peter Weir.
“Peter Weir would rather discuss anything other than the DUP’s denial of rights enjoyed by citizens everywhere else on these islands, language, rights, marriage rights and the right to a coroner’s inquest.
“He would be better focusing his energies on urging his party to close the deal they made with Sinn Fein on an Irish language and other issues and getting the political institutions back up and running.”