Belfast Telegraph

Assembly clash on Craigavon motion

Politicians have clashed over a DUP Assembly motion commemorating the death of unionist icon Lord Craigavon.

Democratic Unionist representative Mervyn Storey asked for "respect and reverence" to mark the 70th anniversary of the death of Northern Ireland's first Prime Minister.

But Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd said it was a waste of Assembly time to debate the issue during a period of economic turmoil.

Mr Storey rejected the accusation of time wasting and said: "Surely, given the important individual that Lord Craigavon was, and is to many people - the first Prime Minister in this building and the longest serving Prime Minister - surely it is only right and proper, despite the difficulties economically, that we have the opportunity to mark that."

The North Antrim representative was joined by a string of unionist speakers, including former DUP leader Ian Paisley, in praising Craigavon's legacy.

But Mr O'Dowd said the historic figure had built a state that discriminated against Catholics and failed working class unionists.

Mr Storey said Craigavon was misrepresented by nationalists as having boasted of creating 'a Protestant parliament for a Protestant people'.

He added: "That assertion and allegation is untrue.

"After de Valera had asserted that the south was a Catholic nation, Craigavon responded by saying, and I quote, 'the honourable member must remember that in the south they have boasted of a Catholic state: they still boast of southern Ireland being a Catholic state. All I boast of is that we are a Protestant Parliament and a Protestant state'."

Speaking prior to the debate, Mr O'Dowd said: "Last week the DUP used their private members time to put forward a pointless motion on grass cutting. Today they have went a stage further in wasting Assembly time by putting forward a motion on the 70th anniversary of the death of Craigavon."

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