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Row flares after DUP duo walk out during Clinton ovation

By Lisa Smyth

Two DUP MPs have been accused of letting Northern Ireland down after they walked out of the Assembly chamber during a standing ovation for Hillary Clinton.

Sinn Fein has asked for an apology from Gregory Campbell and Willie McCrea. The two politicians responded by denying that any snub was intended and instead insisted they left for another engagement.

The latest spat between Sinn Fein and the DUP came as the US Secretary of State called on political leaders here to broker a deal on the devolution of policing and justice.

The two senior DUP men, who have spoken out against a swift devolution of policing and justice powers, left the Assembly while other members were applauding Mrs Clinton.

Their actions will be seen by many as a sign that some elements within the DUP do not appreciate outside interference in Northern Ireland’s affairs.

But the early exits brought an angry response from Sinn Fein MLA Daithi McKay.

He said: “The behaviour of Willie McCrea and Gregory Campbell was nothing short of childish and was a direct insult to the Obama administration. Now, given the fact that the DUP continually emphasises the importance of foreign investment to the north, the behaviour of these two representatives serves only to undermine this.

“The DUP needs to publicly distance themselves from the actions of Messrs McCrea and Campbell who acted in a very unprofessional and discourteous manner not only toward Hillary Clinton but also toward their own party leader.”

However, Mr Campbell rejected the accusations, claiming he and Rev McCrea had other business to attend to. He did not specify what the other business was.

“The only immaturity that I sense is the tell-tale behaviour of David (Daithi) McKay,” he said. “Just like a child in the playground runs to the teacher and gives an inaccurate account of an event, so too has David given an inaccurate account of the proceedings in the Assembly. When the business had concluded both William and I withdrew from the Chamber as we had other important matters to deal with.”

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