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Sinn Fein 'not welcome in Northern Ireland unionist town': Anger over Jim Wells deleted tweet

By Jonathan Bell

There has been anger over a tweet from a Democratic Unionist which stated Sinn Fein was not welcome to canvass a "unionist town" in Northern Ireland.

On Monday morning Jim Wells took to Twitter, stating: "Many complaints about Sinn Fein canvassing in Rathfriland yesterday. They are not welcome in this unionist town - particularly on a Sunday."

The former Health Minister quickly removed the tweet but not before it was screen-grabbed and shared across social media.

Contacted by the Belfast Telegraph to explain the tweet and its removal, the DUP man responded: "No comment" and referred us to the party's press office.

"The main role of the press is to set bear traps for politicians and I have no intention of falling into them. No comment," he added.

Responding to the post on Facebook some claimed the post was "anti-democratic".

One person wrote: "You can disagree with them, argue against them, but you can't object to them campaigning. That's democracy."

On Twitter users pointed out there couldn't be "no-go zones" for political parties campaigning for election, while another pointed out how the "last census revealed Rathfriland to be 40% Catholic.

"So it's hardly an exclusively unionist town," he said.

Another added: "Who does Jim Wells think he is? Enjoy your own bubble Jim, the rest of us will practice loving our neighbours!"

Sinn Fein MLA Chris Hazzard who is running for the South Down Westminster seat, added: “Sinn Fein has widely canvassed the South Down area over the course of this election.

“Our message of equality, rights and Irish unity was well received during our canvas yesterday in Rathfriland.

“Sinn Fein will not be deterred by Jim Wells or anyone else from bringing that message to the electorate of South Down.”

A DUP spokesman said: "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 tweet in question was deleted shortly after it was posted.”

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