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DUP's Gregory Campbell slams NIO over its 'botched' plans for meeting

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Gregory Campbell of the DUP

Gregory Campbell of the DUP

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Gregory Campbell of the DUP

A senior DUP MP has blasted the Northern Ireland Office over "botched" meeting plans.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is set to make his first official visit to Londonderry today.

Among his planned engagements is a meeting with local civic, business and political representatives involved in the Unity of Purpose (UoP) advocacy group.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said that he, along with MLA Gary Middleton, had been keen to take part in the meeting but were unavailable due to business at Stormont and Westminster.

He claimed the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) "botched" the meeting plans by proceeding with the date despite their unavailability. "When the visit was first mooted last week, a number of us who wanted to be involved made it clear that Monday, February 24 was not a suitable date given both Assembly and Westminster commitments for a number of representatives," the East Londonderry MP said.

"Alternative dates were offered but despite this, the NIO decided to proceed.

"This has meant that there will be no elected unionist voice at the meeting."

The DUP men warned: "Those in charge at the Northern Ireland Office need to radically reassess their outlook and the new Secretary of State must look again at visits like this, as the whole point of a discussion/decision-making forum like UoP is that it is representative. Today's meeting is not."

The NIO had not responded to a request for comment by time of going to press last night.

Belfast Telegraph