Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson’s exchange with NI Secretary Karen Bradley at the Balmoral Show yesterday has been branded “crass and ill-mannered” by a former DUP MLA.
Mrs Anderson confronted the Secretary of State on the issues of Brexit, legacy and a border poll when they ran into each other at the event.
The MEP told Mrs Bradley that as far as Sinn Fein were concerned there has been “demonstrable change” in opinion on the need for a border poll in Northern Ireland.
“I think the evidence that we’ve had from opinion polls, shouldn’t be dismissed,” Mrs Anderson said.
Earlier this week it was reported that Prime Minister Theresa May was not confident of Northern Ireland remaining within the UK in the event of a border poll.
Mrs Anderson then spoke about her party’s concerns around Brexit, adding: “There is a backstop and a protocol in place that will allow the North at least to stay in the custom’s union.”
The NI Secretary responded: “We don’t accept the backstop that has been set down by the EU, we are working on a backstop that we are happy with and we’ll be bringing that forward.”
But Mrs Anderson persisted with her line of questioning, stating: “Your Prime Minister wrote to Donald Tusk and actually said that they agreed that there needed to be a backstop.”
In a bid to diffuse the situation, the Secretary of State tried to turn attention back to the Balmoral Show.
“We all agree with that, we don’t agree with the text that’s been put forward by the EU but let’s not talk about that we are here to enjoy a great show,” Mrs Bradley said.
“We are here to enjoy a brilliant show, but we are not going to be collateral damage and there can be no dilution of our rights,” Mrs Anderson replied.
Mrs Anderson then pressed her on the release of legacy funding, to which she responded: “We are waiting on the bid from the Department of Justice.”
The Secretary of State then ended the conversation and walked away.
Speaking on BBC’s The Nolan Show this morning, former DUP MLA Mr McCausland said Mrs Anderson’s approach was “the wrong way to raise issues”.
He added: “Sinn Fein have seven MPs and the best place to raise issues would be to take your seat in the House of Commons, rather than this crass and ill-mannered approach we saw yesterday.
“We have to be fair to Karen Bradley as I think she was being quite polite in saying this is not the time, the place or the manner for that type of in-your-face confrontation.
“Someone else might have simply said ‘catch yourself on Martina’.”
The News Letter has reached out to Sinn Fein for comment.