Row over McDonnell’s remarks as SDLP office opens in Glengormley

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell. INLT 40-651-CON
SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell. INLT 40-651-CON

A political row has blown up after SDLP leader Alastair McDonnell accused the DUP of not wanting to work with Catholics and claiming Sinn Fein “can’t tell the truth” about the IRA.

The remarks were recorded by a journalist at the opening of a new constituency office in Glengormley yesterday.

He said DUP members “don’t want a taig about the place” at Stormont, and accused the DUP’s Arlene Foster of having shown a “lack of respect” for nationalists after referring to “rogue and renegade” ministers in the Executive.

Mrs Foster took over the reins as acting First Minister from Peter Robinson recently, when he stepped aside temporarily during the latest political crisis at Stormont, brought about by the PSNI’s claim that Provisional IRA members were involved in the murder of Kevin McGuigan.

In the recording, Dr McDonnell can be heard laying the blame for the ongoing crsis at the feet of the DUP and Sinn Féin.

He said: “The DUP don’t want partnership - they don’t want a taig about the place. I’m sorry, it’s as brutal as that.

“I’m not divisive, I don’t like to be like that but they, at times, they’ve made it very clear to us they don’t support the Good Friday Agreement, they don’t support a lot of the changes that have taken place.”

Dr McDonnell added: “Sinn Fein can’t tell the truth. They just can’t tell the truth.”

Responding to Dr McDonnell’s accusations, Mrs Foster branded the remarks as “utter rubbish”, adding she was “hugely disappointed” by his use of “pejorative language”.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey has also criticised Dr McDonnell for his comments and challenged the SDLP to bring any information they had about Mr McGuigan’s murder to the police.