Northern Ireland news

DUP MP Gregory Campbell accused of attempting to mock Irish language

Gregory Campbell holds a tub of yoghurt during the 2014 DUP party conference, a reference to controversy over remarks made in the assembly about the Irish language
Rebecca Black, PA

DUP MP Gregory Campbell has been criticised by Sinn Féin for a social media post which appears to mock the Irish language.

The Facebook post came after the East Derry MP was barred from addressing the assembly for a day in 2014, for failing to apologise for an Irish language parody.

He started an address to the assembly then with "Curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer", an apparent take on the Irish sentence "go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle" which translates as "thank you, Speaker", and is used by some MLAs when addressing the chamber.

On Sunday, Mr Campbell referred to a programme on BBC Northern Ireland 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.

Gregory Campbell's Facebook post

"I vill not be tempted to ask vot is dis curried yoghurt mein herr," Mr Campbell posted.

Sinn Féin MLA Emma Sheerin called the post "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," 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.

"It is long past the time that disrespect like this is allowed to go unchallenged and time the DUP genuinely embraced equality and respect."

Disagreement between the DUP and Sinn Féin over an Irish Language Act for Northern Ireland was a sticking point in political talks between the parties last year, ahead of the New Decade New Approach deal.

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