Belfast Telegraph

Gregory Campbell defends Facebook post over 'Irish Republican sympathisers' comment on Celtic's Champions League tie in Gibraltar

The DUP's Gregory Campbell has defended comments he made on Facebook over Celtic's Champions League qualifying round tie against Gibraltar side Lincoln Red Imps.

The Scottish champions play in Gibraltar on Tuesday, July 12.

Ahead of the tie, East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell, said: "Someone told me that Celtic are due to play on the 12th, in Gibraltar.

"That info was ok but wasn't sure what he meant when he hoped that it wouldn't be like the last time Irish Republican sympathisers went to Gibraltar and lost."

He was referencing the SAS shootings of IRA members Mairead Farrell, Sean Savage and Daniel McCann in 1988. They had planned to bomb a parade of the Royal Anglian Regiment in the centre of Gibraltar.

Sinn Fein described the comments as "vile and beneath contempt".

Speaking on Stephen Nolan's BBC radio show, Mr Campbell defended the comments.

He said: "Someone told me Celtic were playing on the Twelfth of July, which I thought was ironic. When they told me they were playing in Gibraltar, I thought that was even more ironic.

"The fact is an IRA gang went out to Gibraltar to kill members of the British Army and when they were shot dead by the SAS, their devices, ammunitions and explosives were recovered.

"This was 28 years ago and you'd wonder why some would want to make an issue of it now then wouldn't you.

"Those people died as a result of being sent out there and now because it's 28-years later there is a reference made by me about this football match being played where it took place and some that support the football club that are going would revel in Irish republican activity."

When told of Sinn Fein's call for the party leadership to "rein him in," Mr Campbell responded: "So.... maybe I better have seconds thoughts then."

He said his party leader Arlene Foster would have "no interest" in his comments.

"I wouldn't blow this out of proportion," he added.

When asked if he should be making jokes about dead people.

He responded: "Hold on, I was making jokes about dead terrorists."

Mr Campbell said he had no intention of removing the post.


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