Belfast Telegraph

We’ll take no lectures from Sinn Fein about respect, Paisley tells ‘class clown’ Kearney

By Claire O'Boyle

Ian Paisley has blasted Sinn Fein's Declan Kearney for lecturing the DUP for "contempt" and "disrespect" hot on the heels of the Barry McElduff furore.

In his latest blog the Sinn Fein chairman said again there would be "no return to the status quo", and criticised the DUP's "hallmark disrespect and sneering contempt" of nationalists, women, ethnic minorities and the LGBT community.

Mr Paisley last night branded Mr Kearney "the class clown" and said he was "extremely short-sighted" to overlook the Kingsmill crisis in his own party.

"This week Mr Kearney has shown himself to be the class clown," said the MP for North Antrim.

"To come out with language like this, to lecture anyone else about respect after what's happened within his own ranks, takes a brass neck.

"Did he miss what just happened? Has he forgotten what Barry McElduff did, or the part Mairtin O Muilleoir played?

"He must be very short-sighted or very forgetful.

"The fact is, Mr Kearney's words are hollow, they're meaningless.

"He showed that after he made a brave speech about all that was going to happen only for nothing to happen, to be undermined by his party leader.

"He has no clout or authority in his own party and no unionist takes anything he says seriously."

In his blog to mark the first anniversary of Martin McGuinness's resignation as Joint First Minister, Mr Kearney said: "It was untenable for Martin and other Sinn Fein ministers to remain in the Executive with the DUP given the cumulative build-up of financial scandals; that party's institutionalised bigotry and bad faith; and, the hallmark disrespect and sneering contempt shown by DUP members towards northern nationalists, the LGB&T community, ethnic minorities and women, which had come to define the political institutions.

"Martin was insistent, against the advice of others for health reasons, that he should travel to Belfast the next day to meet and personally inform Arlene Foster, before making himself available to do media.

"Afterwards he said privately that the journey from Derry to Belfast and home that day felt like climbing Everest, such was the physical toll it had on him. That particular day has now forever immortalised the phrase that 'there would be no return to the status quo,' which Martin used in his press conference.

"Those words have come to symbolise the deep-rooted nature of the unfolding political crisis at the heart of the institutions.

"Martin McGuinness' resignation was not a stunt.

"Sinn Fein's commitment not to return to the status quo is not superficial or expedient.

"When the Sinn Fein leadership repeats there will be no return to the status quo we mean every word of that.

"Our position carries the same meaning and determination one year on from when Martin immortalised the phrase.

"The denial of rights; disrespect for the Irish cultural tradition and republican and nationalist political identity; abuse of the political institutions; rejection of proper power sharing based upon a commitment to anti-sectarianism; and, refusal to implement past agreements, most notably on legacy; is all directly in conflict with sustainable institutions.

"The DUP leadership knows exactly what must be done. When these issues are properly resolved the political institutions can be re-established.

"It is not a red line to state that the days of second class citizenship in the north of Ireland are over."

Belfast Telegraph

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