Unionists hit back at 'Scrap NI' remarks by Sinn Fein's Barry McElduff
A Sinn Fein MLA has come under fire after suggesting Northern Ireland should be "scrapped".
Barry McElduff's remark on social media came as the crisis enveloping Stormont over welfare reform continued.
He also said a United Ireland was the "only chance we have".
The West Tyrone MLA was responding to a tweet from comedian Tim McGarry who joked there was a "simple solution" to the welfare crisis.
"Scrap the Assembly, let #FIFA run Northern Ireland. They certainly know how to raise funds," the Hole in the Wall Gang star quipped.
To which Mr McElduff replied: "Scrap 'NI' maybe. United Ireland only chance we have."
The DUP's Stephen Moutray hit back: "It is very hard to take this as a joke this week. Barry would be better spending his time getting his party to honour the Stormont House Agreement, which would be a way of avoiding the £500m the people of Northern Ireland are going to have to find to balance the budget."
And Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs said it was "bad timing" for such comments from Sinn Fein "since they are behaving in such an irresponsible manner in the Assembly by trying to scrap the budget".
The East Antrim MLA added: "There is a failure on the part of Sinn Fein to recognise that the missing millions from our budget is a useful ingredient for running Northern Ireland."
Mr McElduff, a member of the Assembly's environment committee, last night responded: "I am a united Irelander. Both views are legitimate and in politics you have to take the rough with the smooth.
"But honestly - hand on heart - I would have more in common with both Stephen Moutray and Roy Beggs than I would with David Cameron. And at least they have a mandate here, unlike Cameron's Conservatives," he said.
"Despite our differences, I would like to team up with Mssrs Moutray and Beggs to go to the British Government and say 'we are not going to do your dirty work' as a united team."