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Never mind the b*****ks, says Sinn Fein MP: Michelle Gildernew refuses to withdraw remark aimed at DUP’s Gregory Campbell

By Adrian Rutherford

Michelle Gildernew has refused to back down over comments in which she branded Gregory Campbell "a b*****ks".

The Sinn Fein MP said she had received messages of support over the remarks.

She was speaking at the same meeting where Gerry Adams vowed to "break these b******s" - a comment which unionists said was intended to insult them.

Ms Gildernew was reacting to weekend comments from Mr Campbell about the Irish language. The DUP MP had used a speech at his party's conference to refer to his "curry my yoghurt" outburst in the Assembly.

She reportedly told the meeting in Enniskillen: "All Gregory has to do is be a b*****ks".

Last night Ms Gildernew said she stood over her remarks.

"I directed my remarks towards Gregory and I'm not withdrawing them," she said.

She added: "Certainly, from the messages that I received today, people are glad that I articulated the frustration that hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people are feeling at the casual insulting of the Irish language and the expression of Irish cultural identity."

Ms Gildernew said people were fed up with the way "elements within the DUP" continued to tolerate jibes against the Irish language.

Her remarks have been seized on by the DUP, who claimed it was a sign of Sinn Fein panic.

Deputy leader Nigel Dodds said senior Sinn Fein members had "let the mask slip" twice in the same meeting.

"Regardless of whether or not it drives SF to swearing, we will continue to promote the benefits of the Union and the existence of Northern Ireland. No republican tactic will break us," he said.

"The swearing from Sinn Fein representatives demonstrates Gerry's promise of delivering a united Ireland by 2016 has been frustrated by the DUP and lies in tatters. Their strategy has failed."

During Monday night's meeting, Ms Gildernew said Sinn Fein had to "keep moving these people (the DUP) out of the territory where they are comfortable".

"Gregory would be comfortable in the six county state forever," she added.

Following Ms Gildernew's comments, Mr Adams is said to have joked: "I don't feel as bad saying b******s now you've said b*****ks".

However, the Sinn Fein president later backpedalled over his remarks.

Speaking at a meeting in Belfast last night, Mr Adams said: "I accept that some people have been offended by my use of a swear word but sometimes even when something is said in an inappropriate way it can spark a positive debate.

"It is my strong hope that this might be the case. It is also my strong view that we need to face up to intolerance, bigotry, racism, homophobia and misogyny."

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