Ritchie says heckling by DUP MPs juvenile
Posted By: January 12, 2017
John Manley. Irish News.Thursday, January 12, 2017
Margaret Ritchie was heckled as she spoke at Westminster on Tuesday
FORMER SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie has described heckling by DUP MPs in the House of Commons as “juvenile.”
The South Down MP was badgered while speaking at Westminster on Tuesday during a debate on the latest political developments in the north.
She struggled to be heard above comments from nearby DUP MPs, including deputy leader Nigel Dodds.
When Ms. Ritchie’s SDLP colleagues Mark Durkan and Alasdair McDonnell spoke during the same debate, there were no interruptions from their DUP counterparts.
The incident happened a week after DUP leader Arlene Foster had said she had been the victim of misogyny.
Ms. Ritchie said she believes it was what she said about the DUP’s attitude to power-sharing that riled its exclusively male Westminster contingent.
Between the heckles she was heard to say: “Fundamental to the political institutions in Northern Ireland were the principles of power-sharing, partnership, and respect for political difference.
“In the past weeks, we have seen the disappearance and the withering away of the principle of power-sharing, foremost by the Democratic Unionist Party.”
DUP MPs laughed and repeatedly said: “You walked away.”
Speaking to The Irish News yesterday, the former SDLP leader suggested her Westminster colleagues “didn’t like me telling the truth.”
She described their behavior as “typically juvenile.”
“I believe it was a reflection of the DUP’s long-standing failure to recognize equality – both political and gender equality,” she said.
“I have had occasion to sample similar behavior from the DUP in the past – they may say that’s characteristic of politics, but I believe you can always conduct your politics with an acceptable level of civility and still make your point.”
Ms. Ritchie said that she had a received a number of expressions of support from the public.