By Jonathan McCambridge, Rebecca Black and David Young, PA
Taoiseach Micheál Martin says he does not believe there is a growing tolerance of violence in Ireland after recent incidents where videos of groups singing pro-IRA songs were posted on social media.
Mr Martin said people in Ireland had demonstrated their “antipathy” to the IRA campaign of violence over 30 years.
A video posted on social media at the weekend, which appeared to show passengers at Dublin Airport singing a song in support of the IRA, was widely condemned.
The video features lyrics from Celtic Symphony by The Wolfe Tones.
Last week, a video showing members of the Ireland national women’s football team singing the same pro-IRA chant was condemned by victims of terrorism.
The FAI apologised for the video, which circulated online after Ireland qualified for the Women’s World Cup for the first time.
Speaking after meeting Northern Ireland’s party leaders in Belfast, the Taoiseach said people should not lose sight of Ireland’s years of opposition to IRA violence.
He said: “Nor do I detect any weakening in that overarching view within the population at large about the terrible nature of that violence.
“That remains the strong view of the Irish people, the people of this island.
“In terms of the Irish soccer team, the apology was very, very comprehensive and very genuine.
“There was an acknowledgement in terms of offence that was created.
“I don’t believe there is a growing tolerance of violence, but I think there is an obligation on all of us in politics to make sure we take the culture of the gun out of politics for good.
“And new generations are not reared on the narrative around the use of violence. We have come a long way over many decades.”
Earlier, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said he had asked the Irish Government to use its influence to attempt to prevent further scenes of people singing pro-IRA songs.
He said those singing the songs “just want to poke us in the eye”.
He added: “We had the singing at the weekend and last week of songs that are deeply offensive to many people, including victims. And I recognise this isn’t just a problem on one side.
“But certainly when you have people who are role models in a community or society who are engaging in this kind of activity, it doesn’t do anything to create the kind of atmosphere that we need to make progress.
“And so we are asking the Irish Government to use their influence in their jurisdiction to ensure that people desist from this kind of behaviour.”
The DUP leader also referenced a weekend attack on an Orange Hall in Co Down.
Police have said they are treating the attack, where a window was broken at Finnis Orange Hall, as a sectarian hate crime.
Sir Jeffrey said: “Over the weekend I was visiting a little Orange hall that through the whole period of the Troubles was never once touched.
“That hall is used by all sections of the community, and yet they had their windows smashed.
“There’s cause and effect. When people create a bad atmosphere, unfortunately, people do bad things.”
Mr Donaldson said the Taoiseach agreed with him that “creating a febrile atmosphere or polarising opinion is not the way forward”.
He added: “And I think he also recognises that it completely undermines the notion put about by some of building a shared future and a shared island and a united Ireland and having a border poll.
“The people who are doing this actually do more harm to their own cause than anything else.
“Because it demonstrates very clearly to unionists that whilst on the one hand we’re told ‘you will be well looked after’, on the other hand, people just want to poke us in the eye and particularly they want to poke victims in the eye.
“I cannot for the life of me understand how anyone gets enjoyment out of causing grief and pain to those who’ve already had much grief and pain visited upon them.”
Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill urged people to be respectful of each other.
She said: “I think we all should be very sensitive to the needs of victims and survivors and be very mindful of that.
“I think all of us in public life or just in life in general, we should be sensitive to that. I think that we need to be civil, and we need to be respectful in what we say.
“People have said their piece in terms of what happened.
“I can’t police everything that I see appearing on social media, but what I can say is that we should all be respectful of each other.”