DUP politician censured for mocking Irish language

A DUP politician in the North has had his wristed slapped for mocking the Irish language in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Speaking yesterday during a debate on the Irish language, East Derry MLA Gregory Campbell said the words "Curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer" in an apparent parody of Sinn Féin use of the phrase "go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle".

His comments met laughter from his DUP colleagues but a scathing response from Sinn Féin's Carál Ní Chuilín , the North's Culture Minister, who accused Mr Campbell of "pure ignorance".

Ms Ní Chuilín subsequently made an official complaint to the office of Assembly Speaker Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin (Sinn Féin), accusing Mr Campbell of racism.

Mr McLaughlin today barred Mr Campbell from addressing the house for one day.

"The spirit of mockery was blatant and reflects badly upon this House and the deputy Speakers," Mr McLaughlin said.

"I am not prepared to allow such a breach of standards to pass without consequence.

"Be in no doubt, if humour was in the Member's intention, it failed miserably."

However speaking to Stephen Nolan from BBC Radio Ulster this morning, Mr Campbell refused to apologise, saying Sinn Féin used the Irish language in the Assembly for purely political reasons.

"I have nothing to apologise for and I won't be apologising," he said.

"Why do they (Sinn Féin) feel on every occasion, on every topic, that they have to start in Irish?" he asked, insisting that most people in the North did not have any knowledge of the language or interest in it.

"I exposed the fallacy and the nonsense of people who insist on using Irish to begin every single contribution, no matter what the topic is, when most people don't understand what they're saying."

By Conor Hallahan

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