The DUP’s Sammy Wilson has said that “a fool and his money are easily parted” after a campaign to challenge the DUP/Tory pact gained financial backing of over £20,000.
The campaign was launched by the Green Party’s Ciaran McClean, who is asking members of the public to pledge money via a crowdfunding website so he can fund a judicial review of the government’s deal with the DUP which he believes is in violation of the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr McClean, who failed in a bid to win a Westminster seat for the party in West Tyrone last month, said: “The Tories are being propped up by the DUP in order to cling to power after the recent election. This horrifies me. It’s straight bribery – money for votes.
“The deal flies in the face of the Good Friday Agreement, under which the government is obligated to exercise its power with ‘rigorous impartiality’ on behalf of all the people in the diversity of their identities and traditions.”
At time of going to press, Mr McClean’s campaign had hit its £20,000 target, and a fresh one of £100,000 has now been set.
His solicitor said an application for a judicial review could be submitted today or tomorrow.
DUP MP Mr Wilson said: “The only thing who will make anything out of this will be the lawyers of the person who is running it.
“Fools and their money are easily parted. The amount that has been raised shows you that there are still quite a few fools about.”
Mr Wilson added: “I would imagine in six to eight months’ time some lawyers will be going on their holidays on the basis of money which has been donated by people with more money than sense.
“And we’ll still have the pact and we’ll still have the billion pounds to fund public services in Northern Ireland.”
Of the deal between his party and the Conservative goverment, Mr Wilson said: “Parties are totally entitled to make agreements between themselves, and coalition can operate whatever kind of arrangements they wish.”
Addressing Mr McClean, he questioned what kind of person “wants to stop Northern Ireland getting a billion pounds?”
He added it shows “how in touch the Green Party is”.
As well as being a Green Party member, Mr McClean is a mental health worker.
On his crowdfunding page he wrote: “My claim is that as a citizen I expect my government to honour its obligations under the Good Friday Agreement and not to bribe others with money so that it can stay in power.
“My lawyers have put these points to the government. They eventually responded failing to meet deadlines they set themselves. Nothing they said addresses the fundamental issues behind this corrupt deal.
“It means that I am pressed to issue proceedings to resolve these issues. I need funds to meet the costs of doing so.”
David Green – senior partner at legal firm Edwin Coe (which is taking the case in the High Court) said the people crowdfunding the case “feel strongly about the issue”.
In response to Mr Wilson, he said: “What would one expect? I wasn’t expecting his support.”