BNP leader Nick Griffin defends Fenian comment on Twitter

Nick Griffin Mr Griffin said he had received a "tremendous response" at the event

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The BNP leader Nick Griffin has defended using a derogatory term about Catholics on Twitter.

Mr Griffin, who attended the Ulster Covenant event at Stormont in Belfast on Saturday, said he had used the word Fenian in a tweet after receiving abusive messages from republicans.

He said it was not aimed at Catholics in general and he would not be withdrawing his remark.

The SDLP have lodged a complaint with police over Mr Griffin's comments.

Mr Griffin said he had attended as a member of the public, not a guest of the Orange Order.

He said he had been coming over to attend events in Northern Ireland since 1976.

"I knew this was going to be a big and spectacular parade. I wanted to come along and have a look," said Mr Griffin.

"It wasn't about Catholics, it was about the operatives of the republican grievance exploitation machine who were leaving foul-mouthed tweets on my Twitter feed. It was about them specifically. They're the ones I had a go at.

"If they want to leave vast amounts of foul-mouthed abuse on my Twitter feed when I'm showing people on the mainland, primarily, a part of the culture of Britain that they don't see much of, and if that upset a group of republicans, I'm not going to apologise."

SDLP councillor Nichola Mallon said she had lodged a formal complaint against Mr Griffin with the PSNI because she regarded his comments as an "incitement to hatred".

Language

"The complaint I have lodged cites Part III of the Public Order (Northern Ireland) Order 1987, which deals with actions or words which stir up hatred or fear," she said.

"By using the language he used, he has also proven himself unfit for elected office, and the authorities at the European Parliament should be taking advice on what action to take against him.

"His presence at Stormont was deeply unhelpful and should have been challenged - all Nick Griffin seeks to do is stir up discontent and sectarianism in Northern Ireland, and that is the last thing we need."

Thousands attended the event at Stormont to mark the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

It marked the anniversary of the signing of the document in 1912, which laid the foundations for the partition of Ireland and the formation of Northern Ireland a decade later.

Mr Griffin said he had received a "tremendous response".

"I had one long ten-minute discussion with an Orangeman who didn't agree with me. We had a good discussion and we shook hands at the end of it," he said.

"Everybody else that I met either just said I had a right to be there or wanted photographs taken and autographs.

"Obviously there was no connection between the British National Party and the organisers of the parade, I was there as a member of the public."

DUP councillor and Orangeman, Christopher Stalford, said the "values the BNP represent are the antithesis of unionist values".

"Unionism is open and inclusive, you can come from any background and be a unionist. I don't believe that Nick Griffin had any place being there and this is exactly the sort of stunt that he thrives on," he said.

"The truth is, there were 35,000 or 40,000 people out on Saturday having a very positive and happy day.

"One knuckle-dragging MEP turning up does not mar the whole day. I just think it's sad that it has received the attention it has. That's probably mission accomplished as far as he is concerned."

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