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Máirtín Ó Muilleoir slams Lord Kilclooney over claim that nationalists are 'not equal'

Lord Kilclooney said a unionist majority meant nationalists could not claim equality

FORMER Stormont finance minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has criticised cross-bench peer John Taylor's claim that nationalists and unionists "are not equals".

The Irish News reported how the former UUP deputy leader, now known as Lord Kilclooney, said a unionist majority meant nationalists could not claim equality – though they were entitled to equality of opportunity.

He also said Sinn Féin was "dictating terms" with calls for standalone Irish language legislation.

The former MP, MEP and Stormont minister was elaborating on comments posted on Twitter at the weekend.

"What I'm saying is that all people, nationalists in particular, must have equal opportunity with everyone else," he said.

"But when it comes to equality, which is the word used by Sinn Féin, they are a political minority in Northern Ireland."

Mr Ó Muilleoir hit back at Lord Kilclooney's remarks.

"If I am not misinterpreting him, really what he is saying is that we (nationalists) will have to stay at the back of the bus," the South Belfast MLA said.

"When it comes to some of the core issues of rights, that nationalists just have to get in the queue."

The Sinn Féin representative said he believed that "within the broad unionist community the argument has been won" for an Irish language act and "now we are having to outwork it".

He added that the challenge for the party's "unionist partners" was whether they could accept that.

"The question I can't get a straight answer from unionists on is how can this be good enough in Scotland, good enough in Wales, good enough in the rest of the country but not good enough here," he said.

Lord Kilclooney told the BBC that it was "very important" that Northern Ireland offered "equal opportunities for everyone, whether they are Irish or British, nationalist or unionist, Catholic or Protestant".

"In the last Stormont election, 44 per cent voted for a united Ireland, 56 per cent did not," he added.

"It is not equality in political terms, but certainly we are equal in individual terms."

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