UUP's Beattie unrepentant after calling Sinn Fein 'scavengers'
Ulster Unionist Doug Beattie has said Sinn Fein should be offended by the Shankill bomb and other IRA atrocities rather than at his description of the party as "political scavengers".
Writing in today's Belfast Telegraph, the Upper Bann MLA refuses Sinn Fein's demand that he withdraw his "offensive remark".
Mr Beattie said Sinn Fein's calls for an Irish Language Act and same-sex marriage "corrupts and belittles" the campaigns of committed Irish language speakers and LGBT activists.
"They have a political agenda and they could not care less about equality as long as it promotes the party on both sides of the border. Sinn Fein are political scavengers and opportunists," he wrote in last Thursday's paper.
Sinn Fein MLA John O'Dowd slammed Mr Beattie's description of the party. "Sinn Fein will make absolutely no apologies for seeking rights and equality. That doesn't make us scavengers," he said. "It is what we have been elected to do, so Doug Beattie should withdraw this offensive remark." However, Mr Beattie insisted he was standing by his remarks.
"Sinn Fein are upset by my words, let them be upset," he said. "I would much rather they were upset and offended by the execution of 10 innocent men at Kingsmill, the burning alive of 12 people at La Mon, the murder of innocent shoppers on the Shankill Road 24 years ago.
"The fact that the IRA butchered Paul Quinn - unfortunately the list of human rights abuses carried out by the IRA goes on and on. And all condoned or excused by Sinn Fein."
Mr Beattie said he wouldn't accept Sinn Fein's rhetoric of being offended. "They have been pandered to for too long," he stated. "They are angered when anyone dares mention the IRA's bloody past yet at the same time they want inquiries, investigations and inquests galore when they have the State, the police or Army as a target.
"Terrorist victims have been asked to accept to make lots of sacrifices during and after the Troubles. Yet Sinn Fein wants to pile more misery on victims and their families." Mr Beattie said that almost 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement, Sinn Fein had proved themselves incapable of generosity, apart from Martin McGuinness's gestures.
"The mask slipped last week when the current Sinn Fein mayor of Londonderry refused to meet Prince Charles," he said.
"Sinn Fein are arch hypocrites to ask me to apologise for offending them given their track record. I will say it again. The republican movement - of which Sinn Fein was such a central part - has so much blood on its hands, that no amount of equality spin will wash that away."
Mr O'Dowd said that the UUP was now "firmly anti-Agreement" and should be honest enough to admit it. Pointing to Mr Beattie's remarks and the rejection of an Irish Language Act by UUP leader Robin Swann, the Sinn Fein MLA said: "The UUP have clearly abandoned the Good Friday Agreement in favour of trying to out DUP the DUP.
"Such reactionary, pathetic politics does a huge disservice to citizens, including many people from the unionist community, who are genuinely seeking equality and rights which are protected everywhere else on these islands."