Belfast Telegraph

Secretary of State 'symbol of British occupation' who should be sent home says Sinn Fein councillor

Julian Smith MP (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Julian Smith MP (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

A Sinn Fein councillor has said that the Northern Ireland Secretary of State is a "symbol of British occupation" and that the only way to deal with them is to "send them home".

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon councillor Catherine Nelson made the comments in a Tweet on Wednesday evening.

She was speaking after Boris Johnson confirmed Julian Smith as the new Secretary of State replacing Karen Bradley.

"Brokenshire, Villiers, Bradley, Smith - all symbols of British occupation," the former MLA wrote.

"None will ever serve the interests of the people of this island. Their focus is and will remain maintaining what little is left of their crumbling empire.

"Only way to send them home #IrishUnity #Think32."

The Tweet was later deleted.

Mrs Nelson's council colleague Julie Flaherty said that the Tweet was reminiscent of Donald Trump supporters chanting "send her back" in relation to a Congresswoman born outside the USA.

“Catherine Nelson’s tweet was a throwback to the old republican mantra of ‘Brits Out’ and a long way away from their modern mantra of ‘equality, rights and respect’, all of which are in short supply from Sinn Fein," the UUP councillor said.

"The Belfast Agreement recognised the legitimacy of the sovereignty of the United Kingdom over Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State is the representative of Her Majesty’s Government in Northern Ireland.

The Tweet from Sinn Fein councillor Catherine Nelson.
The Tweet from Sinn Fein councillor Catherine Nelson.

"To tell her to go home is grossly offensive to both the government and the unionist community and shows very clearly how little Councillor Nelson understands the very same Belfast Agreement that Sinn Fein is so fond of lecturing us about."

Councillor Flaherty called for the Sinn Fein representative to apologise for her remarks.

“If a unionist politician had tweeted telling a visiting Taoiseach or Tanaiste to ‘go home’ one can only imagine the response," she said.

“Councillor Nelson needs to apologise for her remarks and remember that words have consequences. Hundreds of thousands of British citizens live in Northern Ireland. We are home and we aren’t going anywhere.”

Sinn Fein has been contacted in relation to this story.

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