A Unionist leader branded Republicans as ‘Scum’ and slagged off the Irish tricolor as he was elected to the Ulster Assembly in Tyrone.
Ulster Unionist Party leader Tom Elliott was at the centre of a major political row after he made the remarks at the count centre for his Fermanagh/South Tyrone constituency.
Elliott made the remarks as Sinn Fein supporters in the region celebrated major gains for the party in the North’s assembly elections.
In his acceptance speech after he had retained his seat, Elliott made reference to the presence of Irish tri-colors in the count centre.
“I see people with flags of a foreign nation here,” said Elliott to the chagrin of the Sinn Fein delegation.
They immediately heckled him and he replied: “I’d expect nothing more from the scum of Sinn Fein.”
“Their counterparts in the IRA have murdered our citizens.”
Elliott refused to retract his remarks and denied they were a throwback to Ulster’s violent past.
Interviewed by the UTV television station, he added: “These are the people that have tried to destroy this country for years.
“The victims of violence should not be forgotten about.”
Elliott’s remarks haven’t gone well with his own party never mind with Republicans and he has faced several calls to resign his position as UUP leader.
Sinn Fein’s Assembly Chief Whip John O’Dowd was very critical of Elliott, appointed UUP leader last year.
“I share the views of many in his own Ulster Unionist Party that Tom Elliott will never make a political leader,” said O’Dowd.
“Coming out with comments like he has is not political leadership.
“All sides suffered in the conflict but this election has seen voters endorse the power-sharing government born out of the peace process.”
Sinn Fein Enterprise Minister Michelle Gildernew also described the remarks as ‘pathetic’.
She added: “I am quite sure that there are Ulster Unionist voters who are disappointed and upset at his language.”
Elliott was re-elected for Fermanagh-South Tyrone on the first count but Sinn Fein increased their holding in the constituency from two to three seats.