East Londonderry SDLP MLA John Dallat has come under fire after saying that 4,000 people were killed in Northern Ireland “because unionists behaved in an irresponsible fashion”.
MP for the area, Gregory Campbell of the DUP, called on Mr Dallat to apologise after he told BBC Radio Foyle on Thursday morning that “there were 4,000 people killed over 30 years because unionists behaved in an irresponsible fashion”.
Mr Campbell hit out at what he described as “an outrageous and disgraceful slur on the unionist people”.
He added: “John Dallat is trying to rewrite history and let the terrorists off the hook.
“He ignores the fact that 60 per cent of the deaths in the Troubles were a result of republican terrorists and 30 per cent were a result of so-called loyalist terror groups.
“Terrorists were responsible for the deaths and no one else.”
Mr Dallat told the News Letter that he had been taken out of context.
“If unionists had not pulled down Sunningdale and people were allowed to work out their differences then PIRA would not have come into being,” he said.
However, he then accepted that in fact PIRA took more lives before Sunningdale than in any given year afterwards.
He said unionist misrule before Sunningdale had created a vacuum into which OIRA and PIRA had stepped in.
He added: “I am not blaming the unionist people for 4,000 deaths – I am blaming unionist politicians of that day.”
The SDLP man said he did not want Stormont to repeat the mistakes of that period.