Maskey praises DUP man for saying he would never leave this island

Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey has welcomed an assertion by DUP MLA Christopher Stalford that he would stay in a united Ireland.

Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey affirmed Christopher Stalford's comments that he would remain in the event of a united Ireland. 
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey affirmed Christopher Stalford's comments that he would remain in the event of a united Ireland. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Speaking on the BBC’s The View on Thursday, Mr Stalford said: “I would never leave this island”.

He was reacting to recent comments from his party leader, Arlene Foster, who said she would probably leave a united Ireland.

But Mr Stalford said he would “never leave or be pushed out”.

He added: “I was born and reared here. My family have been here for hundreds of years. This is our home.”

He said Mrs Foster’s views were “reflective of a lot of unionists”.

“They feel they would effectively be pushed into the Irish sea. That’s the feeling that exists. For my part though, I would never leave this island,” he added.

He told the programme: “We need to show that you can be British and Irish at the same time”.

However, said he felt British rather than Irish. And he believed the case for unionism was stronger than that for nationalism.

“Nationalism by its very nature is a more exclusionary political viewpoint. You’re either part of the nation, in this case the Irish nation, or you’re not.

“Our challenge is to demonstrate that Irish and British are not mutually exclusive,” he added.

Mr Maskey tweeted “fair play” to Mr Stalford for saying he would stay in a new Ireland. “This is his home as much as mine. Hopefully he and we can develop such a new Ireland underpinned by equality and rights,” he said.

The Sinn Fein MLA recently angered unionists by describing Northern Ireland as a “putrid little statelet” in a tweet. Facing criticism, the MLA was unrepentant.