Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill urged people to be civil in public after a woman chanted a pro-IRA slogan during a meeting with Dame Arlene Foster.

Ms O’Neill was responding to comments from former DUP leader Dame Arlene, who suggested incidents like this were being normalized because Republican leaders said there was no alternative to past IRA violence.

Photos from the Local Women Business Awards in Belfast started appearing on social media over the weekend.

In the video, a woman poses for a selfie with the former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland before shouting “Up the Ra!” began to sing, a pro-IRA lyric from The Wolfe Tones’ Celtic Symphony.

Dame Arlene’s father, a reserve police officer, survived being shot in the head by the IRA in 1979 and she was a teenager when a school bus she was riding in was the target of an IRA bombing in 1988.

In an interview with GB News, Dame Arlene said such incidents “have been normalized because Republican leaders here in Northern Ireland said over the summer there was no alternative to killing people during the riots”.

This was in reference to comments Ms O’Neill made in an interview earlier this year when she said there was “no alternative” to the IRA’s violence during Northern Ireland’s troubled past.

Asked about the awards ceremony during a visit to Derry, Ms O’Neill said: “We all have to be careful, sensitive, mature and civil in all our public statements. In everything we say, because things have implications and impact on people.

“I think we have to be sensible and smart about these things and I think we have to be very mature in terms of the political leadership we take in this area.

Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill addresses the media outside the Guildhall

“When something is wrong, we say it’s wrong and I think that was the case with the incident in the last few days.”

Referring to Dame Arlene’s comments about Republican leaders normalizing such incidents, Ms O’Neill said: “There are different stories from the past and we all have to be sensitive to that, but I also think that’s your role in the political leadership is about the course and ensures that in our public discourse we promote decency in everything we do and say.

“We must all focus on the future. Let’s build a better future.”

The incident, which involved Dame Arlene, was widely condemned by politicians in Northern Ireland, including Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood and Ulster Unionist deputy leader Robbie Butler.

This was the last controversy over pro-IRA chants this year.

Last month there was widespread condemnation after a video was posted on social media of a group of passengers singing the lyrics of the Celtic symphony at Dublin Airport.

Last week, a video showing members of the Irish women’s national football team singing the same pro-IRA song was condemned by victims of terrorism.

The Football Association of Ireland apologized for the video, which circulated online after Ireland qualified for the Women’s World Cup for the first time.

In the summer, footballer John Herron left Larne Football Club “by mutual consent” after he was pictured wearing a t-shirt reading ‘Up The Ra’.

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