Death threat to MP after Irish language row

Gregory Campbell MP MLA holds a yogurt during his speech
Gregory Campbell MP MLA holds a yogurt during his speech

East Derry MP Gregory Campbell has received a death threat after poking fun at the Irish language.

The Democratic Unionist (DUP) man made comments which Sinn Fein said were disrespectful to the language. He also rejected calls for a law protecting it.

A DUP spokesman said: “Police contacted him and made him aware of a serious threat to his life.”

Party leader Peter Robinson defended remarks made by his party colleague at Saturday’s DUP conference.

Mr Campbell told delegates the DUP would treat Sinn Fein’s “entire wish list” as no more than toilet paper.

He said that included calls for an Irish language act.

Sinn Fein and the staunchly-unionist DUP are the two largest parties in the powersharing administration at Stormont.

At the conference Mr Campbell also referred to comments he made in the assembly earlier in the month.

He began an address with “Curry my yoghurt can coca coalyer”, in imitation of the Irish sentence “go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle” which translates as “thank you, Speaker”. He was banned from addressing the assembly for a day for failing to apologise.

Sinn Fein assemblyman and Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin told the chamber: “The spirit of mockery was blatant and reflects badly upon this House and the deputy speakers.”

On Saturday, Mr Campbell started his speech at the conference by saying it was always good to start the day with a healthy breakfast.

He then brought out a tub of yoghurt and said: “So I got some yoghurt today.

“And I’m looking forward to lunch, because they tell me there’s some curry there.”

Mr Campbell has been an MP since 2001. He is a former culture minister in the powersharing ministerial executive at Stormont and has been a trenchant critic of Sinn Fein.