A senior trade unionist has been accused of “hate-filled rhetoric” after he proposed bussing all Conservative voters in Northern Ireland to England.
Bumper Graham, the assistant general secretary of public sector union NIPSA, made the outburst during an appearance on Stephen Nolan’s television programme on Wednesday night.
He said: “All the Tories in Northern Ireland that voted in the General Election, you could fit them onto a double-decker bus and I would put them onto a double-decker bus and send them over to England quite happily.”
Later, referring to further strikes planned by public sector unions, he said: “We’ll put the Tories on the bus back to England and she [Theresa Villiers] can drive the bus.”
In fact, the Northern Ireland Conservatives saw their vote more than double in the space of a year to 9,055 in last week’s election. A double-decker bus typically seats about 70 people, meaning that Mr Graham would require about 130 such vehicles to remove all Conservative voters from the Province.
Mark Brotherston, who stood as the Conservative candidate in North Down, said the comments were “absolutely shameful” and showed the refusal of some people to accept the democratic process.
He said: “Mr Graham should issue an immediate apology and withdraw his outrageous, discriminatory, anti-democratic remark.
“We’ve had a number of calls this morning from very angry Conservative voters. This union leader has just called for almost 10,000 people to be expelled from Northern Ireland, on the basis that he disagrees with their political opinions. It is the most blatantly hate-filled rhetoric and shows a completely contemptuous attitude for freedom of speech and the whole democratic process. Had he made this comment about another group of people the outrage would have been instant and quite rightly so. It’s a suggestion straight from the annals of Stalinism.”
He added: “‘Bumper’ Graham is a regular rabble-rouser on BBC programmes, but this comment is a new low and he cannot be allowed to continue peddling hate unchallenged.
“It is a discriminatory, abusive remark, directed against a whole section of people, based only on their legitimate political opinions and it must be withdrawn immediately, with a full and complete apology.”