MP George Freeman criticised for Brexit comments in tweet about Derry journalist's murder
PUBLISHED: 10:24 20 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:59 20 April 2019
Tory MP George Freeman has been criticised for mentioning Brexit in a social media post about the murder of a young journalist in Northern Ireland.
The Conservative Mid Norfolk MP posted on Twitter to say that it was “heartbreaking” to hear of Lyra McKee's murder in Derry on Thursday, before adding: “We cannot allow a Brexit which undermines the peace in N Ireland.”
But his comment sparked a backlash from social media users on Friday - including some from within his own party.
Greg Peck, a Conservative Broadland District councillor, responded to Mr Freeman's post and said: “George, do you have any evidence that the violence was caused by Brexit? If not suggest you don't try and justify your pro remain stance by irrelevant tweets.”
Mr Freeman's post attracted more than 600 comments within a few hours, with some accusing him of being “tasteless and wrong”.
Mr Freeman's comments were in response to the death of 29-year-old Ms Mckee, who was shot dead during rioting. Police are treating her death as a terrorist incident.
His full Twitter post read: “Heartbreaking & depressing news of the eruption of youth violence in Northern Ireland & the appalling terrorist murder of young journalist #LyraMcKee in Derry. We cannot allow a Brexit which undermines the peace in N Ireland.”
He later posted: “Extraordinary responses to my tweet earlier simply warning that the tragic murder of #LyraMcKee (which the police are treating as terrorism) is a reminder of the fragility of hard-won peace in N. Ireland & the need to ensure the Brexit backstop doesn't inflame it. That's all.”
In a statement to the EDP, he added: “The violence in Londonderry, and the murder of young journalist Lyra McKee, is a reminder of the fragility of the hard won peace in N Ireland.
“The prime minister is right to insist that we need to be careful to ensure that we don't allow the creation of a hard border between Northern and Southern Ireland through Brexit to undermine that peace.”