Northern Ireland news

Nationalist support for DUP duo who were escorted from event after being heckled

DUP Foyle assembly member Gary Middleton
Seanín Graham

NATIONALIST politicians have hit out after DUP politicians were singled out for abuse at a public meeting in Derry on proposed £70 million health service cuts.

Two DUP representatives had to escorted from the Western health trust event on Tuesday night 'for their own safety' after being heckled by some members of the crowd in the Verbal Arts Centre.

DUP leader Arlene Foster hit out in the wake of the incident branding it "disgraceful" while Sinn Féin and the SDLP also condemned the heckling.

Foyle Assembly member Mark H Durkan, who was at the event, described what happened as "outright bullying" of DUP MLA Gary Middleton and Derry councillor Hilary McClintock.

"Some of the protestors wouldn't let health professionals speak as they were attempting to give a presentation while other people attending the meeting decided to leave early because they felt intimidated," he said.

"Everyone is opposed to these cuts but I don't think those behind this behaviour was acceptable."

Sinn Féin Foyle Assembly member Karen Mullan, who also attended the meeting, said the "abusive behaviour" was wrong and should be condemned.

She added that the purpose of the meeting was to give the public the opportunity to "raise their genuine concerns" about the impact of severe budgets cuts on frontline care.

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