Gregory Campbell, the Northern Irish MP who was recently banned from the Northern Ireland Assembly for openly mocking the Irish language was at it again over the weekend, telling a Democratic Unionist Party conference that he would treat an Irish language act as “no more than toilet paper.”
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robison quickly defended his fellow DUP member after an outcry on Twitter, telling the BBC, "Lighten up will you? It's a party conference and it was a bit of comedy in the middle of it, let's get on with some real business.
"If all that you have out of the whole of the party conference is to question me about that, then there are better things I could be doing with my time.”
Campbell, the parliamentary representative for East Derry/Londonderry, came under fire earlier this month when he started an address to the Stormont assembly by saying "Curry my yogurt can coca coalyer," a mockery of the Irish "go raibh maith agat, Ceann Comhairle" which means "thank you, Speaker."
After refusing to apologize, he was banned from speaking in the assembly for one day.
At the DUP party conference in Belfast over the weekend, Campbell made reference to the incident and was met with applause and laughter. Speaking at the podium, he held up a pot of yogurt and said, "So I got some yoghurt today. And I'm looking forward to lunch, because they tell me there's some curry there."
He then said that the DUP would never agree to the Irish Language Act called for members of Sinn Fein and Irish language activists who argue that there is not enough being done to ensure the survival of the Irish language in Northern Ireland.
“On behalf of our party let me say clearly, and slowly so that Caitríona Ruane and Gerry Adams understand, we will never agree to an Irish Language Act at Stormont and we will treat their entire wish list as no more than toilet paper. They better get used to it.”
— Off The Record (@offtherecordni) November 22, 2014
Campbell has since received a death threat. His office confirmed to The Guardian that police had informed them of the threat and that it was a serious one.
Mike Nesbitt, the head of the Ulster Unionist Party (Northern Ireland's other main Unionist party), condemned both the death threat and Campbell's persistent derision of the Irish language.
He told the newspaper: “Whatever people think of Gregory Campbell, or his comments about the Irish language, violence is not the way forward. I call on those responsible for this death threat to make it clear it is withdrawn. I support the police in their efforts to bring those responsible to justice,” he said.
“I also regret that Mr Campbell has chosen to repeat his insult to the Irish language. I am still not clear what point he is trying to make, but the impact is crystal clear. It is highly damaging to community relations.”