Unionist politicians disgrace themselves again

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DUP MP Gregory Campbell has been widely condemned after he reprised an infamous incident in which he mocked the Irish language.

In a Facebook post, he spoke about “curried yoghurt”, a reference to his infamous 2014 address to the Stormont Assembly which started with “curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer”. That mocked the phrase “go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle”, often used by Irish speakers to address the Stormont chamber, and which translates as “thank you, Speaker”.

Mr Campbell was referring to a TV programme about a suspected German spy who had lived in Donegal during the Second World War, and was reported to have spoken Irish with a German accent.

“I vill not be tempted to ask vot is dis curried yoghurt mein herr,” Mr Campbell wrote.

Sinn Féin’s Emma Sheerin described the MP’s latest parody as “crass and offensive”.

“Comments posted on social media by DUP MP Gregory Campbell attempting to mock the Irish language and identity are crass, offensive and despicable,” Ms Sheerin said.

“Sadly, this is not the first time Gregory Campbell has insulted the Irish language community with his offensive anti-Irish mockery. These comments are reminiscent of 2014,” she said.

“When the Assembly was restored in January, DUP leader Arlene Foster said identities should be respected. Perhaps Gregory Campbell needs to reflect on the words of his party leader,” she added.

“It is long past the time that disrespect like this is allowed to go unchallenged and time the DUP genuinely embraced equality and respect,” added Ms Sheerin.

The rights of Irish language speakers remain a difficult issue in the north of Ireland after a talks deal in January to restore Stormont failed to deliver a standalone bill to protect the rights of Irish speakers.

A complaint has been made about Campbell’s Facebook post to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards by Conradh na Gaeilge, an advocacy group for Irish language speakers, who said it was “offensive and insulting in nature to those who speak the Irish language”.

It was not the only display of bigotry by a DUP politician this week.

Former DUP health minister Jim Wells described the GAA (Gaelic Athletics Association) as ‘sectarian’ in the course of a debate at Stormont over the Executive Committee (Functions) Bill. The legislation, which will remove a blocking mechanism on individual Ministerial decisions for the first time since the 2006 St Andrews Agreement, drew a hostile response from the DUP hardliner, one of a number of whom voted against their own party.

Wells warned that if the unionist veto on individual decisions by Sinn Féin’s Ministers were removed, one could “spend a vast amount of money to make [GAA Stadium] Casement Park even grander”, adding: “That would cause huge concern among the unionist population given the sectarian, republican nature of the GAA.”

Wells is no stranger to controversy in recent years, often making homophobic or misogynistic comments and insisting some areas of the north are exclusively unionist.

Sinn Féin member Sinead Ennis urged Mr Wells to retract his latest remarks, saying it was sad that he would label the sporting organisation in such a manner, and that the GAA “could not be further from that”.

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