DUP MP Gregory Campbell has weighed in on the controversy over Seamus Mallon’s comment that Sinn Féin played “John Hume like a 3lb trout,” saying the former Deputy First Minister is right, for once.
Mr Mallon, speaking during a recent interview with the state broadcaster, suggested the long-standing former Foyle MP and SDLP leader, was manipulated by the Sinn Féin leadership from the Hume/Adams talks onwards and that this in part led to the the eclipse of the SDLP as the leading party of Irish nationalism.
The comments of the former Deputy First Minister, who with Mr Hume watched the SDLP vote collapse in the early 2000s, have been dismissed as sour grapes by some.
But Mr Campbell, who served briefly with Mr Mallon in the first Northern Ireland Executive after the Belfast Agreement and famously claimed Mr Hume was undeserving of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998, says the former was correct with his fishing comparison.
“I seldom agreed with Seamus Mallon but he is right about this,” he commented.
“The near sainthood now bestowed on John Hume is galling. In the early 1970s when he and his party were the largest Nationalist Party and thousands of Protestants were moving from the West Bank of Londonderry (almost 90 per cent of them moved in less than three years), many intimidated, there was silence.
“Not just silence but denial that it was happening. He moved into talks with Adams when the IRA were under big pressure in the 1980s and of course now the SDLP is but a pale shadow of its former self. To continue Seamus’s fishing analogy we need to keep them under pressure not let them off the hook.”