Widespread condemnation followed a ‘sectarian and homophobic’ banner saying ‘No Irish No Gay’ which was draped over a motorway bridge on Friday.
Police said they removed the bed sheet from the bridge between Lurgan and Moira soon after complaints from the public.
Writing on PSNI Craigavon Facebook they said: “At the end of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, here’s a message to anyone who feels that bed sheet may have been aimed at them. Take a look at literally every article online which discusses it. The reaction is the same: embarrassment, ridicule, disgust.”
Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd branded the sign ‘reprehensible’. “This racist and homophobic action is a direct consequence of the failure in leadership specifically within the DUP, and political unionism. “Over the summer the largest, most vibrant, colourful Pride parades took place across Ireland, and thousands of people have also taken to the streets in support of Acht Gaelige. This sent a clear message that the tide is changing.
“The majority of MLAs and people in the north support marriage equality and language rights being extended to the north. They are fed up to the back teeth with this sort of vile bigotry and intolerance.
“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,” he said, calling for these matters to be addressed at the next meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference.
Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie branded the sign ‘distasteful and disgraceful’.
“This type of bigoted, sectarian behaviour is not indicative of unionism and it must be shown for what it is - a mindless sectarian attack on those who see themselves as Irish and a homophobic attack on those who are gay.I am an Irish Unionist, a proud British subject and an Ulsterman in the most simplest of terms. My identity and culture is not up for others to abuse in the same way it is not up for others to use my unionism in such a crass way. It should not be tolerated.
SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly described it as ‘sickening and depressing to see such a display of hatred’. “This reminded me of the past when such offensive comments conditioned and promoted violence against sections of the community. The person or person responsible must realise the consequences of their actions in causing offence and hurt to others. It was an indictment of the failure of political leadership 20 years on from the ‘Good Friday Agreement’.”