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Did DUP have a champagne breakfast or just champ?

By Steven Alexander

Published 05/10/2016

Visitors at the reception could help themselves to a fizzy alcoholic drink and a plate of champ
Visitors at the reception could help themselves to a fizzy alcoholic drink and a plate of champ
Champ

DUP politicians may rarely sup what Dr Ian Paisley once described as "the Devil's buttermilk", but the party has just hosted what was billed as a champagne reception at the Conservative conference.

An advertisement on the Tory conference website had urged delegates to attend the Making Brexit Work champagne reception at the Castle Fine Art Gallery in Birmingham's International Convention Centre.

The DUP's critics had lambasted the party for serving up the expensive drink at the Tory conference at a time when the party of government was making savage spending cuts that affect Northern Ireland.

But a source at the gallery revealed that the DUP may not have been as extravagant as first thought.

She confirmed that alcoholic beverages had been served, but champagne may not have actually been handed out.

"I'm not sure - it might have been prosecco," she said, referring to the cheaper Italian white wine.

Asked what the party's founder and long-time leader Lord Bannside - better known as Dr Paisley - would have made of the party hosting a champagne reception, First Minister Arlene Foster pointed out that soft drinks were also available. "It got a little bit lost in translation," she said. "We were supposed to have a drinks reception and somehow it turned into a champagne reception, but we've got a lot of attention out of it and I'm hoping it will draw in the crowds to hear about Northern Ireland."

Using Mr Paisley's nickname of 'Doc', the DUP leader added: "I would say that Doc would be looking down and saying, 'What's going on down there?' But you know what, non-alcoholic drinks were available."

However, Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow joked that Mr Paisley might not be amused, tweeting: "The 'big man' must be turning in his grave!" The DUP's Jim Wells - a teetotaller - also pointed out that in weekend news bulletins, the English media reported that champagne was being served at a breakfast event the party was hosting.

The truth was a little more mundane.

"The DUP invitation was actually to a 'Champ Breakfast'," he explained. "The mainland media wrongly believed that 'Champ' was short for champagne and billed the event accordingly. In Northern Ireland, everyone knows champ is a plate of potatoes and scallions."

The South Down MLA added that there may have been a few MPs and journalists who had turned up for the bubbly - only to be disappointed.

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