Northern Ireland news

Sammy Wilson mocked for 'parody' claims on powersharing by SDLP following John Hume spat

DUP MP Sammy Wilson.
Paul Ainsworth

THE DUP has been accused of putting itself "in a corner" in a row over powersharing after MP Sammy Wilson claimed unionists were being sidelined by nationalists.

The spat followed a rebuke made by SDLP MP Claire Hanna over DUP MP Carla Lockhart citing John Hume in the House of Commons.

Ms Lockhart, the MP for Upper Bann, spoke during a debate on the Northern Ireland Protocol, asking "one really wonders what John Hume would make of the divisive and majoritarian approach" of SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.

SDLP MP Claire Hanna rebuked DUP MP Carla Lockheart in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Picture by Cliff Donaldson

The remark prompted Ms Hanna to interject, stating: "Take John Hume’s name out of your mouth."

The DUP has refused to nominate ministers to the Executive unless the Irish Sea border - which results from the protocol - is removed.

Mr Wilson claimed Ms Hanna should "apologise to Carla" over her remark, adding that the SDLP and Sinn Féin, along with the Alliance Party have "developed a fondness for majority rule" since the DUP lost their place as the north's largest Stormont party following this month's election.

"The cosy coalition of Alliance, SF and SDLP MLAs may want unionists to sit in the corner in silence but our vision is one of Northern Ireland where there is genuine powersharing, where there is genuine commitment to catering for unionists and nationalists and where respect is not a one-way street," he added.

However, the claims were rubbished by the SDLP, which accused Mr Wilson of attempting to distract from his party's role in Brexit.

A spokesperson said last night: "Like many people, we had to do a double-take to make sure this statement was from the real Sammy Wilson and not a parody account. No one with any sense of our history can take seriously the DUP’s attempt to invoke John Hume to justify their repeated failings around Brexit and building a shared future.

"No one has put the DUP in the corner except themselves, by refusing to share power on behalf of everyone here. As we have always been, the SDLP is ready to work with all parties to improve life for everyone here and hope the DUP will follow suit and start putting people here before their own self-interest."

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O'Neill has accused the DUP of "punishing the public for their Brexit mess" by not entering an Executive.

"They've delivered us the hardest possible Brexit along with the Tories and now they're punishing everybody out there in the public that's worried about heating their homes and putting food on their table by staying out of the Executive. That is not acceptable," she said.

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