A Twitterstorm has erupted after a Sinn Fein politician ridiculed former Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon as a “bitter man” for suggesting the republican party had helped create the mess at Stormont.
Niall Ó Donnghaile posted a link to a story in which SDLP veteran Mr Mallon accused Sinn Fein and the DUP of failure to reach a deal to restore the Executive, and doing nothing to heal community divisions.
“Damage has been done to the very essence of the agreement in terms of reconciling the communities,” Mr Mallon told the John Hewitt International Summer School in Armagh.
He also accused two main parties of using culture as a political weapon.
“You have a very sick society when the definition of culture on one side is the burning of bonfires and, on the other side, using the Irish language for what is a patently political reason,” he added.
“When you start to make a cultural element a red line in terms of political negotiation, it is impossible to pursue that without turning that into a political cudgel.”
Mr Ó Donnghaile, a former Belfast Lord Mayor and is now a Senator in Dublin, posted on social media that Mr Mallon — one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement — had delivered nothing.
“No wonder Nationalism rejects this bitter man and SDLP,” tweeted Mr Ó Donnghaile.
“Total lack of self awareness that he delivered 0 and attacks those taking stand for rights.”
SDLP MLA Claire Hanna leapt to Mr Mallon’s defence, tweeting: “Sure all Mallon delivered was acceptance of his mad partnership theory and that killing people didn’t actually endear them to Irish unity or UK.
She later added: “Provisional SF was all ‘Brits out’— the equality schtick is new and they’ve no business denigrating Mallon to rewrite it.”
Ms Hanna said she would “correct the record when someone tries to insult someone of Mallon’s stature”.