Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Campbell refuses to say if he trusts Boris Johnson - says he would take a 'billion criticisms' for Tory deal

Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Naomi Long MEP Alliance Party pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Naomi Long MEP Alliance Party pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured arriving for the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Gregory Campbell MP DUP pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured arriving for the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Naomi Long MEP Alliance Party pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Hundreds attend the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Naomi Long MEP Alliance Party pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Hundreds attend the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Naomi Long MEP Alliance Party pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Naomi Long MEP Alliance Party pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Gregory Campbell MP DUP taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Protesters pictured outside the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Gerry Adams pictured at the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Protesters pictured outside the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Protesters pictured outside the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th August 2018 - DUP MP Gregory Campbell and Alliance leader Naomi Long take part in a panel debate in west Belfast alongside other political leaders from across Ireland in Féile an Phobail's Leaders Debate at St Marys University College on the Falls Road. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
DUP MP Gregory Campbell takes part in a panel debate in west Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th August 2018 - DUP MP Gregory Campbell and Féile director Kevin Gamble take part in a panel debate in west Belfast alongside other political leaders from across Ireland in Féile an Phobail's Leaders Debate at St Marys University College on the Falls Road. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

By Kevin Doyle

DUP MP Gregory Campbell refused to say if he trusted new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Gregory Campbell raised eyebrows during a panel debate with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tonight when he said he’d take “a billion criticisms” for doing a deal with the Tory Party.

The clear reference to the £1bn promised for Northern Ireland in return for the DUP propping up the UK government raised heckles at the Feile an Phobhail debate.

Asked whether he trusts Mr Johnson, the MP replied: “It’s not a matter of trust. I don’t have to trust Boris. And Boris doesn’t have to trust us. But what we do have to do is business with each other.”

Amid heckles from the audience on the Falls Road, Mr Campbell said his party did business to “bring benefit to every single person in this room”.

“I’ll take a billion criticisms but everybody benefits,” he said.

The panel which also included Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald and Alliance Party MEP Naomi Long engaged in strong clashes as they debated the backstop, a united Ireland and direct rule.

It was the second year for Mr Varadkar at the Belfast festival. He was criticised in some quarters for opening the event last year due to links between certain events to the Republican movement.

But Mr Varadkar said the criticism had come from some “people down south” and he was now glad to see a cross-party panel taking part.

He was applauded for opening his contribution in Irish but later heckled after arguing Brexit should not be used as a catalyst for a border poll.

Also on stage was Daniel McCrossan (SDLP),  Brendan Smith (Fianna Fail) and Doug Beattie (UUP).

Panellists engaged in a Brexit ‘blame game’ with Mr Varadkar reminding the audience that it was the UK which held a referendum.

“That wasn’t our decision but it’s one that we’ve been trying to deal with every since,” he said.

In reply, Ms McDonald warned the Taoiseach that the UK “are pointing their fingers at you, very, very wrongly”.

She added: “This is the Tory boys and girls making a power grab to take that which resides in Brussels back for themselves.”

Gregory Campbell passes Gerry Adams in the audience as he walks to the stage for the debate.
Gregory Campbell passes Gerry Adams in the audience as he walks to the stage for the debate.

Ms Long argued that the UK’s dislike of the EU can be traced back to the “ridiculous articles” invented by Boris Johnson during his time as a journalist.

She said Theresa May trigged Article 50 too soon but ultimately argued David Cameron “was the most spectacular irresponsible”.

“What was doubly irresponsibly was having dug the hole for everybody to fall into, just leave.”

Ms McDonald said the Irish government needs to start doing “simple due diligence” to prepare the ground for a 32-county Ireland.

However, Mr Campbell took exception to the Sinn Fein leader’s strident approach saying his “Britishness isn’t up for negotiation, not by her or my Taoiseach or anybody else”.

At one point while discussing social issues, Ms McDonald said the unionist politician should “wise up and come out of the sixteenth century”.

The panel were asked to identify who on stage they most admired as a politician.

Mr Vardkar picked Fianna Fail’s Brendan Smith on the basis that he abstained when he was elected Taoiseach as part of the confidence and supply agreement.

He said the Dail had come together and proved opposing parties can work in the common interest unlike “the mess over in the House of Commons”.

Ms McDonald complimented the Fine Gael leader in her response but settled on Naomi Long who she described as “formidable”.

Gregory Campbell refused to nominate a fellow panellist, saying: “I’ve looked up and down the panel and nah.”

Irish Independent

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