South Down MLA Sinead Bradley has called on Sinn Féin Assembly candidate Chris Hazzard to state categorically what his position is on the Brexit referendum, and Chris Hazard has made a strong response in the teeth of the Westminster election on Thursday 8 June.
Mrs Bradley said: “Chris Hazzard failed to vote in a debate in the NI Assembly to support Special Status and the motion was defeated by the DUP by a single vote. Chris’s failure was despite the fact that 25 of his Sinn Fein MLA colleagues voted to support Special Status and that 56% of people here voted to Remain. The simple fact is that no Sinn Féin South Down MLA’s voted to support the Special Status motion.
“Chris Hazzard now needs to answer a simple question – given that he didn’t turn up for that vote, can he confirm that he bothered to turn up to vote in the Referendum on European Union membership and if he did, did he vote to Remain?
“Sinn Fein campaigned against the European Union in numerous referenda in the South and they failed to register as campaigners in the 2016 referendum. They have quickly jumped on the Pro-EU bandwagon as soon as they realised how serious the threat of Brexit is.
“While they [Sinn Féin] were busy building fake customs posts for photo-opportunities, the SDLP in Westminster secured a pledge from the Tories Brexit boss David Davis that if Northern Ireland votes to rejoin the European Union in any future unity referendum, it can rejoin the EU immediately. That is the what turning up at Westminster delivers.”
Hazzard Responds To Bradley’s Attack
Sinn Féin Westminster candidate Chris Hazzard MLA has called on the SDLP candidate Margaret Ritchie to distance herself from her party colleague’s “outrageous comments”.
Chris Hazzard said today it was outrageous that the SDLP’s Sinead Bradley was attempting to completely misrepresent his position on Brexit and in the process insulting the families of the Loughinisland Massacre.
And he has called on Margaret Ritchie who has supported the Loughinisland families in the past to “distance herself from her colleague’s crass opportunistic comments.”
The Sinn Féin South Down Westminster candidate said: “Sinead Bradley’s comments today are outrageous and they are completely at odds with my record on Brexit.
“At the time of the vote on special status in the Assembly, I was meeting British Secretary of State James Brokenshire.
“I was meeting him in my role as Infrastructure Minister and raised a number of issues with him including the impact Brexit will have on the economy and infrastructure funding in the North.
“But as importantly, and I am on the record about this, I raised with James Brokenshire insulting remarks made by his predecessor Theresa Villiers that claims of state collusion with loyalist paramilitaries in the Loughinisland Massacre were ‘pernicious’ and a ‘deliberate distortion of the truth’.
“It beggars belief that I am being attacked for doing my job first as Infrastructure Minister but also as a South Down MLA.
“It is also extremely disrespectful to the Loughinisland families whose loved ones were gunned down by a loyalist gang working in collusion with British state forces.
“I am calling on Margaret Ritchie to distance herself from her colleague’s crass, inaccurate and insulting comments given her past support for the Loughinisland families.
“And for the record Sinn Féin has been lobbying for the North to be afforded designated special status within the European Union and our TD’s were able to secure a motion on Special Status for the North in the Dáil.”