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Arlene Foster challenged over colleague's 'Sinn Fein not welcome' tweet

Sinn Fein has demanded that Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster distance herself from a party colleague's controversial remarks about republican election workers.

DUP MLA Jim Wells has been criticised for a social media post in which he said Sinn Fein was not welcome in Rathfriland, a "unionist" County Down town.

Mr Wells' Twitter comment, which was posted on Monday but has since been deleted, said: "Many complaints about Sinn Fein canvassing in Rathfriland yesterday.

"They are not welcome in this Unionist town, particularly on a Sunday."

Sinn Fein have called on Ms Foster to state if Mr Wells' views are representative of the DUP.

"Jim Wells' remarks that Sinn Fein election workers are not welcome in Rathfriland are unacceptable," said Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew.

The Fermanagh South Tyrone election candidate called on Mrs Foster "to distance herself from Mr Wells' remarks and to show leadership in this situation".

"Party leaders have a responsibility to ensure there can be no no-go areas for people involved in the democratic process.

"The DUP leader needs to make it clear if Jim Wells' comments reflect the views of the DUP.

"It is not good enough for the DUP to remain silent on this matter," Ms Gildernew said.

She added: "Sinn Fein will continue to stand against DUP's corruption and arrogance and contempt for whole sections of the community.

"We will not be deterred from bringing our message of equality, respect and Irish unity to the electorate."

A spokesperson for the DUP said that "all parties have a right to canvass for votes".

"We recognise, however, that many people value the special nature of Sunday and do not wish to have this intruded upon by political canvassers from any party," the spokesperson added.

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