Political news

Joe Brolly urges Sinn Féin to take Westminster seats while criticising DUP

Joe Brolly said Sinn Féin 'should be in parliament'

DERRY All-Ireland winner Joe Brolly has accused Sinn Féin of "entirely abdicating their responsibility" by refusing to take seats at Westminster.

The barrister and Gaelic football pundit, whose parents are both former Sinn Féin representatives, claimed republicans' abstentionism policy didn't make sense.

"It's okay for Sinn Féin to take their seats at Stormont, something I agree with heartily, under the supervision of the British government – I mean Stormont's there because of the British government," he said.

Describing himself as a "very, very moderate nationalist", Mr Brolly said however that he sympathised with Sinn Féin's decision to collapse the devolved institutions because of the DUP's actions.

He was critical of Sammy Wilson's climate change scepticism and how the DUP regarded the Irish language as "something to joke about".

He also recalled an event promoting transplant awareness when he said then DUP health minister Jim Wells repeatedly referred to him as the "Londonderry footballer who brought Sam Maguire to the United Kingdom".

Mr Brolly told Radio Ulster's Talkback programme that he found the remark "very sneery, contemptuous".

He said there had been a tremendous opportunity with the Good Friday Agreement to "create a pluralist, liberal, socially fair Northern Ireland which could have worked as a standalone state" but the opportunity had been "wasted".

People from Northern Ireland are now "embarrassed" to say where they come from because of the political situation.

"There's been no politics for two years; rampant dysfunction; the DUP are cheer-leading Brexit while internal government reports are saying Northern Ireland's going to be the hardest hit region of the UK, and they're predicting a contraction of the economy of up to nine per cent, which equals a severe recession," he said.

In an interview with the News Letter published yesterday, the 1993 All-Ireland winner also urged the GAA to show “leadership” and give its backing to a referendum on Irish unity.

The DUP responded to his comments in that interview by saying Mr Brolly was "no stranger to various outbursts", including voicing his pride in Dungiven INLA hunger striker and hurler Kevin Lynch when questioned about the village's hurling club being named after him.

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