Campbell: Critics of hunger strike comment have problem with language

Gregory Campbell has refused to apologise for his comments
Gregory Campbell has refused to apologise for his comments

Gregory Campbell has suggested that those who criticised him for remarks he made about a former hunger striker “have a problem with the English language”.

Referring to MLA and ex-republican prisoner Raymond McCartney, Mr Campbell had written on Facebook on Saturday that the Sinn Fein man was “more successful at electioneering that he was at hunger striking”, because he had failed to die of starvation.

He faced calls from Sinn Fein to apologise for the remark, which the party dubbed “vile”.

Speaking to the News Letter, Mr Campbell said it was a simple fact that Mr McCartney had not lived up to his pledge at the time of the hunger strike, when he had said: “We are prepared to go through with this, we are prepared to die.”

On Monday, he told the News Letter: “You only apologise if you’ve done something wrong, or in error. It was not wrong, and it wasn’t an error. So I do not apologise.

“If you do something right, not only do you not apologise – you do it again and again, until those who think it was wrong realise they’re not going to get you to change your mind.”

He referred again to the original pledge spoken by Mr McCartney, and again dubbed him “a failed hunger striker”.

“Now, if people have a problem with that, then they have a problem with the English language,” he said.

Asked if he felt it would have been better if he had died, he replied: “Well, that’s not the issue. The issue isn’t whether he should or shouldn’t have died on hunger strike. The issue is that he said he would – and he didn’t.”