Comments by a leading Scottish politician who branded the Titanic commemorations as “ghoulish” have been described as cheap, insulting and disgraceful.
Scottish Nationalist Joan McAlpine (below), an aide to First Minister Alex Salmond, said people should instead celebrate Scottish ships “that didn't succumb to their first clash with the elements”.
Her comments were branded “crass and insensitive” by Labour, while Naomi Long, the MP for East Belfast, where Titanic was built, invited Ms McAlpine to Northern Ireland “to become better informed”.
The MSP wrote in a newspaper article: “There is something ghoulish about our obsession with the Titanic.
“As the daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Clydeside men who built ships that didn't succumb to their first clash with the elements, I wonder if we are missing a trick?
“The grand old Queen Mary, built at John Brown's in Clydebank, sailed the Atlantic between 1936 and 1967, avoiding icebergs every time. She even survived World War II as a troop ship and now serves as a tourist attraction in Long Beach, California. Her longevity is surely worthy of celebration.”
It is not the first time Ms McAlpine, a former Transport Minister, has been in hot water.
She recently sparked controversy when she compared the union of Scotland and the United Kingdom to an “abusive marriage”.
Labour’s Northern Ireland spokesman Vernon Coaker said: “These are crass and insensitive remarks by Alex Salmond's aide about an event in which over 1,500 people lost their lives.
“This week we are quite properly remembering those who perished when the Titanic sank. Joan McAlpine should be ashamed of her disrespectful remarks.”
He added: “The Northern Ireland Executive is working hard to encourage people from all over the world to visit and find out for themselves what a great place Northern Ireland is. I'm sure they, like me, would expect a little more support from Alex Salmond and the Scottish National Party, rather than this sort of cheap and insulting attack on their efforts.”
Ms Long added: “Anyone who says that is completely divorced from the reality of the last few weeks.
“We have been marking both the triumph of the ship itself and the tragedy of the maiden voyage. Quite rightly, we should be proud of our industrial heritage.”
“There is something ghoulish about our obsession with the Titanic. As the daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of Clydeside men who built ships that didn't succumb to their first clash with the elements, I wonder if we are missing a trick?”
Joan McAlpine MSP