Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has been widely criticised by politicians for marching behind an anti-English banner in New York’s St Patrick’s Day parade.
Sinn Féin tweeted a picture of Ms McDonald holding the banner, which read “England get out of Ireland”, with the comment: “No explanation needed”.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney told Ms McDonald in a tweet to “grow up”, describing her actions as “offensive, divisive and an embarrassment”.
DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the caption of "No explanation needed" summed up the party's attitude to explanations, truth and respect.
“When slogans such as ‘Brits out’ or ‘England out of Ireland’ are used, the unionist community are well within their rights to see themselves as the intended focus,” he said in a statement on Sunday. “The ‘British presence in Ireland’ is the unionist population in Northern Ireland.”
UUP leader Robin Swann MLA said the banner was "highly offensive and wrong on so many levels".
He added: “It demonstrated that bigotry and hypocrisy were alive and well within their version of republicanism.”
Alliance leader Naomi Long said the banner was "not just profoundly stupid – England is not now and never has been or could be in Ireland – but it sends a hostile and offensive message to anyone English or of English extraction on this island".
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood retweeted the image and said: "Sinn Féin aren't capable of convincing unionists of anything. The rest of us will have a lot of heavy lifting to do."
Responding to the controversy, Sinn Féin said in a statement: “The most divisive and offensive act on this island for almost the last 100 years has been the partition of Ireland.
“It should come as no surprise that Sinn Féin wants a new united Ireland under the provisions of Good Friday Agreement.
“The faux outrage of some of our political opponents owes more to the silly season of a holiday weekend and petty political point scoring.
“However if Simon Coveney and the Government is serious about achieving a new and agreed united Ireland then he should immediately convene an all-Ireland forum on Irish unity.”