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UUP MLA hits out at Sinn Fein TD's 'Up the Ra' comments

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Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane alongside president Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane alongside president Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane alongside president Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

An Ulster Unionist MLA has hit out at Sinn Fein after one of its newly elected TDs shouted "Up the Ra" during a victory speech.

Waterford TD David Cullinane was recorded saying “Up the Republic, Up the ‘Ra. Tiocfaidh ar La” as he spoke to supporters hours after he was elected.

He originally denied making the comments before footage appeared on social media on Monday.

He later said his comments were about the past, rather than the future.

A Sinn Fein TD who was filmed shouting "Up the 'Ra" during a victory speech has defended the comment, saying it happened during "the excitement of the night".

Robbie Butler MLA, speaking on the BBC Radio Ulster Nolan Show, said: "When I saw the video it really did pull the veil from Sinn Fein.

"I think the most telling thing was the statement that David Cullinane made which was that his comments were more about the past than the future.

"That should worry anybody. Sinn Fein on one hand they want to concentrate on housing and the health crisis but actually the first thing that comes to mind in victory is the past and a horrendous past might I add."

Mr Butler, who served as a prison officer, said that republican terrorism continues to produce victims in Northern Ireland, citing the murders of prison officers Adrian Ismay and David Black who were killed in 2016 and 2012 by dissident republicans.

"For the past and for many victims in this country terrorism has had a bloody price to pay and if Sinn Fein are serious about making Northern Ireland or Ireland work they are doing an incredibly bad job of selling it to the people who live here and love this place," he said.

When questioned about his comments, Mr Cullinane said the 30-second clip "was part of a broader and longer speech". He said it had been an "emotional day for him".

"I was reflecting back on the hunger strikes," he said, "reflecting back on the fact that (IRA hunger striker) Kevin Lynch stood in the Waterford constituency back in 1981.

“He was someone that inspired me and inspired many republicans, the comments were made in that context.

“I know some people will think the comments were about the here and the now and the future, they weren’t.

“It was reflecting back on that time in Irish history that I’m proud of and those hunger strikers and it was I suppose part of the excitement of the night when we were celebrating that victory.

“My comments were about the past, they were not about the future, the IRA is gone as everybody knows.”

Supporters of Sinn Fein's Dessie Ellis also chanted a rebel song as he topped to poll in Dublin North-West on Sunday.

Footage on social media showed supporters singing Come Out Ye Black and Tans in the RDS count centre while waving tricolours and a Sinn Fein banner.

Sinn Fein achieved historic success in the Republic's General Election at the weekend winning the most amount of first preference votes, taking 37 seats - one behind Finna Fail.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said she had warned party members not to make "throwaway comments, or comments that could be misconstrued or distract us from the work ahead".

"I'm not their mammy," she added.

"I don't censor them either. We're all adults and I do expect them to behave in an adult way."

Belfast Telegraph