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DUP's Gregory Campbell explains hunger striker Facebook post and says he would do it again

By Jonny Bell

Gregory Campbell has remained defiant over a remark he made about Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney and said he would do it again.

The East Londonderry MP, who stood down from the Assembly earlier this year, made a remark on Saturday night on Facebook about former hunger striker Raymond McCartney.

In congratulating Mr McCartney on his election victory, Mr Campbell said he was "a bit more successful at electioneering than he was at hunger striking".

It came after Mr McCartney was re-elected as a Sinn Fein MLA in the Foyle constituency.

Speaking for the first time since the post on Stephen Nolan's BBC radio show, Mr Campbell said he called Raymond McCartney a "failed hunger striker" on numerous occasions in the past and "there wasn't as much as a controversy about it in the past".

"It is a matter for them [those complaining] to explain why they are making a fuss years after."

More: Row over Gregory Campbell hunger striker remarks on social media

"The point is Raymond McCartney, when he was on hunger strike, said he was prepared to go through with this - and he didn't. He said he was prepared to die - and he didn't.

"Somebody says they are prepared to do something and they don't, is that success or failure?"

Mr Campbell would not be drawn on if he was glad - or sorry - that the MLA did not starve himself to death during the hunger strikes.

"What we need to do - and this needs to keep on being said - that we must build for the future, but not allow anyone to re-write the past," he said.

"That's what this is about."

Mr Campbell pointed out that he didn't call Mr McCartney a "failed hunger striker" in his post.

"I'll have to ensure I correct that the next time I do it," he added.

"I did say I am breaking the habit of a life time to send best wishes to Raymond McCartney... why you may ask?

"Because he is a bit more successful at electioneering than he was at hunger striking.

"Most people who read that, and that did read it, thought it was a humorous jibe at Sinn Fein.

"Some people didn't because the bile, the hatred, the venom, that I got from militant Irish republicans - doesn't really bother me - but that's what came.

"If they can't take a humorous jibe, then that's there problem, not mine."

Again asked why he chose Westminster, over Stormont, Mr Campbell said it was his decision, but would not explain his reasoning.

At the time of his announcement, Mr Campbell said he was choosing Westminister to save the cost of a by-election.

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