Mary Lou McDonald accused of ‘fanning flames of division’ with ‘wee statelet’ comment

A DUP MLA has accused Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald of “fanning the flames of communal division” after she made comments describing Northern Ireland as a “wee statelet”.

South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford said Ms McDonald’s remark, made during an interview with The Irish Times, was “another example of Sinn Fein disrespect.”

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald

In the interview, Ms McDonald confirmed that Sinn Féin will not participate in any official events in 2021 that mark the centenary of the establishment of Northern Ireland. And speaking about the partition of Ireland in 1921, she said: “Obviously, for unionists, that was the moment where they secured their ‘wee statelet’; and for Irish nationalism it is the moment when people woke up one morning and said: ‘What happened there?’”

Her use of the term “wee statelet” has angered Mr Stalford, who accused Sinn Fein of demanding respect from everyone, but offering it to no one.

“Mary Lou McDonald has once again demonstrated that the talk of respect is just that. Her words relating to Northern Ireland belie a viciousness that many unionists have come to recognise from Sinn Fein over recent times,” he said.

“Long gone it seems are the days of the Sinn Fein president referring to her ‘unionist brothers and sisters’. Instead we are back to Sinn Fein demanding respect from everyone, but affording it to no one.

Christopher Stalford MLA said he was surprised at the claim

Christopher Stalford MLA said he was surprised at the claim

“I am pleased to say that after Mrs McDonald is long gone from the political scene, Northern Ireland will still be here, despite her party’s best efforts to ensure that all our people are poorer and denied the public services that they need.

“Instead of fanning the flames of communal division, Mary Lou McDonald and her colleagues would be well advised to get back to work,” Mr Stalford added.

The News Letter has contacted Sinn Fein for comment.