Shortall: Foster's 'blonde' remark about O'Neill was "very much a bitchy comment"

The Social Democrats TD spoke about the DUP leader's controversial comments about Sinn Féin's leader in the North

Shortall: Foster's 'blonde' remark about O'Neill was "very much a bitchy comment"

Roisin Shortall. Photo: RollingNews.ie

Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall has slammed Arlene Foster's controversial 'blonde' remark about Michelle O'Neill as "very much a bitchy comment".

The DUP leader was asked in a recent newspaper interview to describe Sinn Féin's leader in the North in one word - and her answer was simply 'blonde'.

The comment prompted anger on social media, as well as criticism from a number of Sinn Féin and other opposition politicians.

Sinn Féin MLA Elisha McCallion called for the "sexist and disparaging" remark to be withdrawn, while Michelle O'Neill herself said there can be "no room in our society" for sexism or other discrimination.

Arlene Foster later told the BBC that her comments in the interview "were meant as a compliment".

Speaking on the Pat Kenny Show this morning, Deputy Shortall argued: "I don't think she was saying it in a complimentary way - it was very much a bitchy comment in my view.

"I think what she displayed yet again is a lack of political skill. That kind of comment, I think, renders her unsuitable as a political leader. She has made other comments like that during her short term in office."

Deputy Shortall added: "None of us would welcome those kind of personalised comments, whether male or female."

Efforts to form a new Assembly in the North are ongoing.

The parties have been given a deadline of late June - after next month's British election - to reach an agreement.