Belfast Telegraph

Donald Trump critic Colum Eastwood 'happy' to carry INLA man's coffin but boycotts White House, says Sammy Wilson

By Jonny Bell

Sammy Wilson has questioned the SDLP leader's stance on refusing to visit the White House under a Donald Trump administration, given how he was "happy" to carry the coffin of an INLA man.

Following Donald Trump's shock victory over Hillary Clinton, the Foyle MLA reaffirmed his position that he would not meet the President-elect.

He slammed the Republican candidate's result as a "victory of fanatical and fantasy absolutism".

The Foyle MLA made clear last month Trump's "absolutely grotesque" remarks about women, immigrants and minority communities would make it impossible for him to accept any invitations under his presidency.

"Trump's was not so much a victory of Right over Left, it was a victory of fanatical and fantasy absolutism over a more considered, coherent and kinder politics," Mr Eastwood said.

"I choose to stand by a very different set of values than those displayed by this man."

However, DUP MP Sammy Wilson highlighted what he described as the "double standards" of Mr Eastwood and how the politician was "happy" to carry the coffin of a "murderer," but not visit an elected president, during an interview with the BBC.

He was referring to the funeral of Seamus 'Chang' Coyle. While Mr Coyle was a member of the Official IRA and INLA, he was never convicted of murder.

Sammy Wilson said: "He wants to boycott the President of the United States although he was quite happy to carry the coffin of a murderer.

"It maybe shows again the double standards that he applies when it comes to public life.

"America is very important to Northern Ireland in terms of trade, investment and security and we ought and the UK ought to be working with new president to make best of the situation."

West Belfast SDLP MLA Alex Attwood responded saying it was a "bit rich for Sammy Wilson to talk of public standards given his antics and words over many a long year".

He added: "We must guide ourselves by higher standards than the low standards that have been evident by more than one candidate in the American election."

A spokesperson for the party added: "The SDLP leader will take no lessons on values in public life from a man like Sammy Wilson who built his career making inflammatory statements like ‘Taigs don’t pay rates’ and who was recorded by the BBC failing to challenge a man who wanted to ‘get the ethnics out’ during the EU referendum.”

More: Sammy Wilson: BBC has taken my comments out of context over 'ethnics out' response

Colum Eastwood: Why I carried INLA man's coffin 

SDLP chief Colum Eastwood has no regrets over carrying coffin of INLA man Seamus 'Chang' Coyle 

Mr Eastwood caused controversy in 2012 by carrying the coffin of friend and former paramilitary, Seamus 'Chang' Coyle.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph Mr Eastwood defended his decision to take part in the funeral.

"Seamus Coyle was a friend of mine from school. It was difficult for me politically to carry that coffin but it was important to me on a personal level," he said.

"I understand that people have difficulties with it, I completely understand, but we also have to understand that sometimes in death you have to pay respects."

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