Belfast Telegraph

I will not be cowed, says defiant Gregory Campbell in face of death threat

By Adrian Rutherford

Gregory Campbell has vowed that a death threat will not stop him from speaking out about the Irish language.

The DUP MP said he won't be dictated to by terrorists after police warned him of a serious risk to his life.

Mr Campbell is at the centre of a growing row after saying he would treat calls for an Irish Language Act "as toilet paper". Yesterday he said his comments were justified.

"Exposing those politicising the Irish language, as well as those making unrealistic political demands at the talks table, is the right thing to do," he said.

"How dare anyone try to suggest that it is something to be ashamed of. I will not be apologising for, or deviating from, doing the right thing."

However, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness branded the comments "appalling".

He also criticised the DUP leadership for defending his conduct.

Mr Campbell sparked fury last month when he mocked Irish during a Stormont debate.

He said: "Curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer" - a reference to the Irish phrase "go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle", which translates as "thank-you, speaker".

The row resurfaced after remarks during a speech by Mr Campbell at the party conference on Saturday.

He told delegates it was always good to start the day with a healthy breakfast, before producing a tub of yoghurt and saying: "I'm looking forward to lunch, because they tell me there's some curry there."

Mr Campbell also said the DUP would treat Sinn Fein's "entire wish list" - including calls for an Irish Language Act - like toilet paper.

The row took a sinister twist after it emerged a death threat had been issued. The DUP said PSNI officers contacted Mr Campbell and made him aware of "a serious threat to his life".

Mr Campbell insisted he would not be stopped from speaking out or working for the people he represents.

He added: "Republican logic appears to dictate that if they don't like being challenged, if they don't like to hear a truth being outlined, then they make an accusation of intolerance.

"If that doesn't work then a threat to kill can be used by others. I will not be dictated to or deflected by terrorists.

"My job is to speak out on behalf of the people I represent and to work on their behalf.

"It is my intention to continue to do so."

The threat received cross-party condemnation.

DUP leader Peter Robinson said the threat was an attack on democracy, while he himself faced criticism for defending Mr Campbell.

Mr McGuinness said he was "very disappointed" that Mr Campbell had not been reprimanded by the DUP.

"Under no circumstances can this be passed over as comedy, there was nothing funny about it," the Deputy First Minister said.

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