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‘Take John Hume’s name out of your mouth’: DUP MP invokes civil rights leader in Protocol debate

The House of Commons clash has since moved to the online realm.

SDLP MP Claire Hanna (left) responded to Carla Lockhart of the DUP (right).
SDLP MP Claire Hanna (left) responded to Carla Lockhart of the DUP (right).
Image: Parliamentlive

SDLP MP CLAIRE Hanna was moved to robustly respond to her DUP counterpart Carla Lockhart today after the unionist politician invoked John Hume during a debate about the Northern Ireland Protocol in the UK parliament.

The ill-tempered exchange came after UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss revealed plans to unilaterally alter the Protocol, which Boris Johnson’s government agreed with the EU in 2019.

Addressing Truss, Hanna said the recent elections show that a “comfortable majority” of people in Northern Ireland support the Protocol – which aims to prevent a hard border between the North and the Republic.

“The Foreign Secretary is misrepresenting our position and the position of the people of Northern Ireland who want the Protocol as protection from Brexit,” Hanna said.

“There wasn’t a whisper of consent or consensus when the party opposite [Conservatives] or the party below me [DUP] were voting gleefully for ever harder versions of Brexit,” she added.

In a brief response, Truss said the Good Friday Agreement is based on the principle of power sharing with the consent of all communities. She said that is what the UK government is seeking to achieve with its attempt to change the Brexit deal.

Lockhart then cited David Trimble in urging the UK government to safeguard the future of Northern Ireland by replacing the “damaging and community-splitting Protocol”.

“With his [Trimble’s] comments in mind, one really wonders what John Hume would make of the divisive and majoritarian approach of his successor from the member for Foyle [SDLP MP Colum Eastwood],” she said.

The mention of the former SDLP leader prompted Hanna to interject: “Take John Hume’s name out of your mouth.”

The DUP politician subsequently moved the squabble onto the online realm, sharing a John Hume quote about difference and diversity.

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The quote read: “Difference is the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth, and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.”

Hanna, in turn, retweeted a message which thanked her for “calling out” Lockhart’s attempt to twist the meaning of Hume’s message.  

“Appalling hijacking of a peace leader, who listened to all views, by a party famous for opposing the GFA [Good Friday Agreement] and listening to precisely no one since the Brexit debate began,” the post said.

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond also waded in to the row to accuse Lockhart of “shameful and misplaced misappropriation.”

About the author:

Céimin Burke

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