Northern Ireland news

Peter Robinson used term 'Planter and Gael' on several occasions

Former DUP leader Peter Robinson. Picture by Queen's University Belfast/PA Wire

THE term 'Planter and Gael' which this week triggered an angry response from unionists was used by DUP leader Peter Robinson almost two decades ago and on at least one occasion since.

US Congressman Richard Neal was forced to defend his use of the term 'Planter', that describes the Scots/English who settled in north-east of Ireland during the 17th century plantation of Ulster.

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said he was deeply offended by the term.

US congressman Richard Neal. Picture by Richard Neal/Twitter

“You listen to all of that and sometimes you wonder what century Richie Neal is actually thinking through here,” Mr Beattie said. “I mean, to come up with Planter and the Gael - have we not moved on?"

When Mr Neal was asked about the negative reaction his comment prompted, he said the terms Gael and Planter were "entirely accurate historic references".

The same terminology was adopted by celebrated poets John Hewitt, a Protestant, and John Montague, a Catholic, for The Planter and The Gael, an anthology published by the Arts Council for Northern Ireland in 1970.

Mr Robinson used the terms in a speech to what was then his East Belfast constituency branch in 2004.

"When I speak of 'our people' I speak of those who share my unionist philosophy and those who do not – I speak of both the Planter and the Gael," he said.

He again used the term in a speech in the United States in 2006.

"I hope that the sons and daughters of the Planter and Gael have found a way to share the land of their birth and live together in peace," he said.

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