East Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA John Stewart has responded to comments by Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald in which she said she hoped Julian Smith would be the last British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and handed him a copy of the Belfast Agreement.
John Stewart MLA said:
“The comments of Mary Lou McDonald on Friday demonstrate clearly that Sinn Fein don’t understand the Belfast Agreement and don’t care about insulting unionists, in spite of what they might say about ‘rights and respect.’
“After meeting the new Secretary of State Julian Smith, she was said to have asked him about the "threshold" for calling a poll on Irish reunification and told him she hoped he would be "the last British secretary of state". Perhaps if she says it often enough she might even be able to persuade herself that she believes it to be true, but she is fooling nobody else.
“As a Unionist, that is what I would expect a republican to say, but she joins the latest in a long line of Sinn Fein politicians and Irish republicans who are detached from reality. I can recall Gerry Adams predicting Irish Unity by 2016, and look how that worked out.
"The Sinn Fein Leader also presented the new Secretary of State with a copy of the Belfast Agreement. She might have been better off keeping it, because if recent comments are anything to go by, clearly a lot of her party colleagues haven’t read – or certainly haven’t understood – the section which guarantees the principle of consent and Northern Ireland’s constitutional status as part of the United Kingdom, for as long as a majority of the people who live here wish.
“Rather than engage in soundbites and rhetoric designed to persuade the Sinn Fein base that all is still on track, Sinn Fein would be better served by dropping red lines and getting Stormont back to work, so that local politicians can begin to tackle the massive problems facing our health service and our children’s education in particular.”