Sinn Féin defend Martina Anderson after 'fishwife rant'

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said Theresa May could "stick (her plans for the Irish border) where the sun doesn't shine"

SINN Féin has defended Martina Anderson after the DUP's Sammy Wilson accused her of "ranting like a fishwife" in the European Parliament.

Addressing fellow MEPs in Strasbourg on Monday, Ms Anderson quoted from the anti-interment song The Men Behind the Wire and told prime minister Theresa May to "stick it where the sun doesn't shine" over her Brexit plans.

The former Foyle MLA and Stormont junior minister criticised what she described as the British government's "Brexit wreck-it crew" and the impact leaving the EU would have on Ireland.

"And let me put the record straight for everybody here, no border hard or soft will be accepted by the people of Ireland," she said.

"What British armoured cars and tanks and guns couldn’t do in Ireland, 27 member states will not be able to do in Ireland.

"So, Theresa (May), your notion of a border, hard or soft, stick it where the sun doesn’t shine because you’re not putting it in Ireland."

Mr Wilson accused Ms Anderson yesterday of "ranting like a fishwife".

"I would imagine that was far more offensive than anything Arlene Foster ever said," the East Antrim MP added, in an apparent reference to the DUP leader comparing Sinn Féin to a crocodile during the assembly election campaign.

"Although Sinn Fein use the language of equality and respect, when it actually comes down to it they never actually practice it."

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson also described Ms Anderson's comments as "embarassing".

"I hope whichever MEPs were present were able to see the true face of Sinn Féin, who all too often are incapable of practising what they preach on tolerance and respect," he said.

In a statement last night, Sinn Féin defended Ms Anderson's remarks.

"The prospect of Brexit has caused widespread concern across Ireland, north and south," the party said.

"The comments in the European Parliament in Strasbourg were reflective of the anger that the north could be dragged out of Europe by someone who has no mandate in Ireland."

 Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson doesn't take any prisoners in her address to the European parliament when she advises Theresa May against setting up any kind of border on the island of Ireland. Cartoon by Ian Knox


While it may have been lost on most of her fellow MEPs, Martina Anderson's reference to "armoured cars and tanks and guns" was from one of the best known songs of the Troubles.

The Men Behind The Wire was written and composed by west Belfast man Paddy McGuigan of the Barleycorn folk group as an anti-interment ballad and released in December 1971.

It begins: "Armoured cars and tanks and guns, came to take away our sons. But every man must stand behind, the men behind the wire."

McGuigan was himself later interned for three months, with many believing the motive behind his imprisonment was his authorship of the song.

It reached number one in the Irish charts in January 1972, where it remained for three weeks.

After a gap of a week it then returned to the top spot for two weeks in February.

Royalties from the recording were donated to families of internees.

The Men Behind The Wire remained one of the most popular 'rebel' songs throughout the Troubles and was covered by acts including the Wolfe Tones, Liam Clancy and the Flying Column.

Paddy McGuigan, writer and composer of "The Men Behind The Wire"


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