Northern Ireland news

Sectarian song 'besmirching' memory of Michaela McAreavey was 'disgusting', Orangeman and journalist says

Michaela and John McAreavey. Picture by McAreavey family handout/PA Wire

THE sectarian song "besmirching" the memory of Michaela McAreavey was "disgusting", an Orangeman and journalist from Co Tyrone has said.

Richard Mulligan, a former News Letter sports editor, also said there is "no defence for mocking the murder of an innocent young woman".

Writing in The Irish Times, Mr Mulligan said he believed "a line was more than crossed" when the footage mocking Mrs McAreavey appeared on social media.

"It was shameful," he said.

He said there is 'no defence for mocking the murder of an innocent young woman'. Picture from Richard Mulligan/Twitter

The video showed a group of people singing an offensive song about the murder of Mrs McAreavey in Mauritius in 2011, just 10 days after marrying husband John McAreavey.

The clip was filmed in an Orange hall in Dundonald on May 28 during a Northern Ireland centenary celebration. Three men have since resigned from the Orange Order after they were identified in the clip, which was posted online. The trio apologised for their involvement, but also said they were being subjected to a "public witch hunt". Several businesses have taken action against employees following the circulation of video footage.

Police confirmed they will send a file to prosecutors over the footage.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland described the footage as "utterly abhorrent".

Mr Mulligan wrote that as a member of the Orange Order, he felt the song had "brought shame and disgrace".

"Sectarian chanting is, sadly, sometimes accepted as normal in Northern Ireland," he said.

"For most, it is not acceptable behaviour. Unfortunately, however, it is not always entirely surprising to hear such songs. But a line was more than crossed when a song about Michaela McAreavey appeared in a social media video."

He said the "sectarian song besmirching her memory was disgusting" and criticised those who "belted it out with gusto".

"It was shameful. What impact it had on the Harte and McAreavey families I can only imagine," he said.

"The hurt must have been awful. Since it emerged some people clearly involved have been sacked from their positions. One person has been interviewed by the PSNI. The Orange Order said it would launch its own investigation. I understand some of those involved have since resigned from the organisation. And rightly so. They have brought shame and disgrace on themselves, their families and organisation."

He also said that "everyone in that room should be taking a hard look at themselves".

"There is no defence for mocking the murder of an innocent young woman," he said.

He added that "the emergence of the song mocking the death of Michaela McAreavey took things to an all-time low".

"There should be no place for hatred or sectarianism, but sadly there will be a few who will continue on that path," he said.

"Given the Orange Order's links to the video, the organisation came in for criticism, some of it merited. But some suggested that everyone association was bigoted. It is not the case that every member of the order hates Catholics."

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