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Copeland U-turn over Richard Haass 'go home' apology

CLAIRE GRAHAM

Published 24/12/2013

Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland
Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland

ULSTER Unionist MLA Michael Copeland has done something of a U-turn on an apology he issued for saying Dr Richard Haass should go home.

The East Belfast Assemblyman had to issue a statement through his party yesterday after he delivered a hard-hitting speech on flags at a loyalist rally in north Belfast at the weekend.

He told the crowd that Dr Haass should "go home and leave us who live here to mend our ways", despite the participation of his party leader in the talks.

In a statement issued by the UUP after the content of Mr Copeland's speech emerged, he said: "I deeply regret any offence taken by anyone following my comments at the weekend, for none was intended.

"I spoke as I always do from the heart. I intended no disrespect to Mr Haass who was invited here due to the failure of the two largest parties to solve problems which they largely created. I fully support the efforts of my party leader and the others involved in this process."

However, using his Facebook page he later clarified that this did not amount to an apology.

"I didn't apologise for what I said. I apologised if anyone took offence," he added.

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