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Gregory Campbell banned in absentia over 'curry my yoghurt' Irish language stunt


Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin

Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin

Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin

The DUP's Gregory Campbell was banned from speaking in the Assembly yesterday, even though he was in London.

The East Londonderry MP was censured by acting Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin after refusing to apologise for mocking the Irish language in a question to Arts Minister Caral Ni Chuilin.

Mr Campbell began his query on Monday saying "Curry my yoghurt, can coca coalyer", a parody of the Irish sentence "Go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle" which means "thank you, Speaker" in English.

Ms Ni Chuilin accused the MLA and MP of pure ignorance and refused to answer his question.

Mr Campbell came under a barrage of attack from Sinn Fein. Gerry Kelly said Mr Campbell had played the lowest common denominator of intolerance and wallowed in it, and Phil Flanagan tweeted the MP should "realise that Irish is the native language of this country".

Yesterday Mr McLaughlin returned to the issue and said Mr Campbell's conduct had fallen "well short of standards expected from MLAs. The spirit of mockery was blatant and reflects badly upon this House and the deputy Speakers. Be in no doubt, if humour was in the Member's intention, it failed miserably."

Sinn Fein has referred the remarks to the Human Rights Commission and Equality Commission. But Mr Campbell told the BBC: "I have nothing to apologise for and I won't be apologising."

Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn said Mr Campbells' outburst "was rude and disrespectful to Irish speakers. TUV leader Jim Allister, himself still banned from speaking, said the real issue of the Department of Education being required to "proactively encourage and facilitate" Irish had been missed.

Belfast Telegraph