The Sinn Féin leader showed incredibly poor judgement by posing behind a banner emblazoned with 'England get out of Ireland,' Alliance Councillor Nuala McAllister has said.
Mary Lou McDonald stood with the banner at the New York St Patrick's Day parade yesterday. Councillor McAllister said she should reflect on her actions and apologise.
"This sort of banner has no place at any parade in 2019. Mary Lou McDonald showed incredibly poor judgement to pose behind it and she should apologise. Leaving aside the irony of St Patrick being a Briton, this sort of anti-English, anti-British sentiment is just as repulsive as anti-Irish, anti-immigrant prejudiced views - they are two sides of the same coin.
"My term as Lord Mayor had its focus on 'Global Belfast', which showcased the city for the inclusive, diverse and welcoming place it is. As we speak, we have worldwide brands investing here, while we hold festivals marking all traditions and lead the digital revolution, all done in an open and inclusive atmosphere, while sharing and respecting different cultures.
"This negative approach does nothing but send out a hostile and offensive message to anyone who does not fit Sinn Féin's clearly narrow vision. It is particularly jarring coming from a party which is quick to call for respect, equality and integrity at election time. You cannot claim to be all those things, yet happily pose behind a xenophobic banner which does nothing but offend and antagonise people."