Editor's Viewpoint: Sinn Fein showing where it stands on respect
Once again a senior member of Sinn Fein has shown gross insensitivity by causing great offence to the unionist community at large.
Chris Hazzard, the MP for South Down, has set up his office in Castlewellan in a building named after two local Provisional IRA terrorists.
This is yet another clear example of Sinn Fein double-speak where party members talk about "extending the hand of friendship" to the unionists and then make a mockery of such words by glorifying the actions of IRA terrorists, often those killed while carrying out acts of extreme violence.
This was an unnecessary act by Mr Hazzard, and it comes all too soon after the appalling behaviour of Barry McElduff, the disrespectful comment by Alex Maskey who described Northern Ireland as a putrid little statelet, and also the controversial comments by the new Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald at the recent Ard Fheis.
All such acts of provocation will make bridge-building with the unionist community an even greater uphill task, and it begs the question, does Sinn Fein have even the slightest interest in doing so?
There is the added insult that Hazzard's sectarian action has placed his constituency office out of bounds to unionists whereas it should be a place where constituents of all persuasions should be welcomed and made to feel comfortable.
Sinn Fein are good at rhetoric and they continue to trot out well-worn demands for greater respect from their political opponents and those whom they represent.
However, these words become totally devalued in the face of endless Sinn Fein hypocrisy where they make demands on their opponents but appear to have no intention of monitoring or improving their own behaviour.
Respect is a two-way thing, and so far Sinn Fein have failed miserably in relation to this. Chris Hazzard underlines so clearly his party's disrespect for others by creating more barriers rather than trying to bring down the old ones.
The vast majority of politicians have views on everything and an ability to talk about anything. However, in the real world, actions speak louder than words.
It is clear that Chris Hazzard has no respect for a large section of his constituency. He ought to know better and he should do better, but he has failed miserably in his duty of serving all his constituents.