Northern Ireland

Gregory Campbell remarks appalling says Martin McGuinness

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Media captionMartin McGuinness said Gregory Campbell's comments on the Irish language were a "disgrace" and "shameful"

Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has said it was "absolutely appalling" to hear Gregory Campbell's remarks about the Irish language at the DUP conference.

Gregory Campbell told DUP members at the weekend the party would treat Sinn Féin's "entire wish list" as no more than toilet paper.

He also made reference to the 'curry my yoghurt' row from earlier this month.

Mr McGuinness said he was "very disappointed" that Mr Campbell had not been reprimanded by the DUP leadership.

"Under no circumstances can this be passed over as comedy. It was absolutely appalling and there was nothing funny about it," he said.

"It's time to grow up, time to show some maturity, time to stop playing to the lowest common denominator, time to show some leadership."

He said the only thing people would remember about the DUP conference was Mr Campbell's remarks.

"If the DUP don't see how damaging that is for them as a political party then I think that sends out a very negative message."

'Dry sense of humour'

Earlier in the assembly, DUP leader Peter Robinson said Mr Campbell had a dry sense of humour and claimed some people were playing politics with the Irish language.

"The language and culture surrounding it must be protected; when it starts to get drawn into the political realm we start to undermine and dilute the importance of the language," the first minister added.

Mr Robinson said there was a need to differentiate between "lampooning those who are involved in a political campaign related to the Irish language and those who genuinely speak the Irish language".

He said Mr Campbell's "finger was being pointed at those who politically abuse the Irish language".

Earlier this month, Mr Campbell began an address to the assembly 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".

On Monday he said: Mr Campbell said: "Exposing those politicising the Irish language, as well as those making unrealistic political demands at the talks table is the right thing to do.

"How dare anyone try to suggest that it is something to be ashamed of?

"I will not be apologising for, or deviating from doing the right thing."

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