Durkan attacks Foster over Irish language remarks

DUP leader and election candidate, Arlene Foster. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
DUP leader and election candidate, Arlene Foster. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

SDLP candidate for Foyle, Mark H. Durkan, has strongly criticised former First Minister, Arlene Foster, for comments she made about the Irish language on Monday

Mrs. Foster made the remarks at a DUP event in Lurgan.

Mrs. Foster said her party would never agree to an Irish language act and said more people in the North spoke Polish than Irish.

Referring to Sinn Fein demands, Mrs. Foster said: “If you feed a crocodile, it will keep coming back for more.”

In response to Mrs Foster’s comments, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams joked: “See you later, alligator”.

Mr. Durkan who will contest one of the five Assembly seats available in the Foyle constituency on March 2, described Mrs. Foster’s comments as a “shamefully bigoted attack”.

“Once again, we have a shamefully bigoted attack on the Irish language from the DUP – only this time from its party leader.

“Arlene Foster’s ill-educated comments are yet another example of a ham-fisted attempt at political positioning. It lays bare once again that this is first and foremost a political tactic designed to use tribal politics to distract from a DUP leader under fire.”

Mr. Durkan added: “The DUP are positioning themselves to fight a campaign based on division and tribalism. However, they cannot be allowed to turn this into another orange and green election. They must answer for their scandal, arrogance and incompetence which has brought this Assembly election about.

“Both I and my party will continue to fight for the establishment of an Irish Language Act to preserve and encourage the language.

“It is imperative that a rights-based Act supports Irish speakers in Derry and throughout the North in the freedom to use the language in public life, without constraints.”