Belfast Telegraph

Gregory Campbell delivered 'home truths' to Nancy Pelosi on Londonderry visit

Foyle MLA Gary Middleton, Congressman Richard Neal and East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell.
Foyle MLA Gary Middleton, Congressman Richard Neal and East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell.

Gregory Campbell has said that he and his DUP colleague Gary Middleton delivered some "home truths" to US Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her visit to Londonderry on Thursday.

Senior Democrat Ms Pelosi was in Derry as part of a US delegation on a four-day visit to Ireland, she also visited the Irish border between Derry and Donegal.

DUP East Londonderry MP Mr Campbell said it was important to have unionist representation at a reception for the US delegation to deliver some "home truths", especially given the large number of nationalists and republicans in attendance.

In a joint statement, Mr Campbell and Foyle MLA Mr Middleton said that they took the opportunity to discuss the "mass exodus" of Protestants from Derry's west bank during the Troubles with Ms Pelosi and Congressman Richard Neal.

The pair presented the visiting US politicians with a book on the matter, which describes how Protestants moved in huge numbers to Derry's Waterside during the Troubles.

Between 1971 and 1981 the Protestant population of the west bank, also known as the cityside, dropped by two-thirds - from 8,459 in 1971 to 2,874 in 1981.

By 1991 it had fallen to 1,407, down 83% in those 20 years.

The statement also said that the DUP men discussed Brexit and Stormont with the visiting US politciians.

"The issue was relevant given that the meeting took place on that West Bank while there is much talk now of peace, reaching out and co-operation, but thousands of Unionists were forced to flee as a result of violent Irish Republicanism at the start of the Troubles," the statement read.

"Irish Americans constantly wax lyrical about the 'Irish American' lobby, we were able to remind them that it was the Ulster Scots who helped create the United States at it's birth.

"We also raised the Brexit issue of the mythical hard border, which no one wants and cannot be implemented."

The DUP representatives said that while it was important to highlight the injustices of the past, there can be no return to violence.

"It is important that we put into context what life was like for people in Northern Ireland, during some of its darkest days.

"Our message however was clear – there will be no return to this, despite efforts to glorify IRA terrorism and others feeding the myth that Brexit will bring back violence on the streets of Northern Ireland.”

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