Grey squirrels have been labelled the “Hamas of the squirrel world” by a Member of Parliament.

The DUP’s Jim Shannon compared the animal to the Palestinian militant group, designated a proscribed terror group in the UK, as MPs considered ways to protect red squirrels.

Hamas was responsible for a deadly attack on Israel on October 7.

UK Parliament portraits
DUP MP Jim Shannon (Richard Townshend/UK Parliament)

Mr Shannon, speaking during the debate on the control of the grey squirrel population, said: “The Ards Red Squirrel Group is full of fantastic volunteers who work tirelessly to protect the future of the red squirrel in my constituency of Strangford, particularly at Mount Stewart.

“The organisation is led by the National Trust Mount Stewart ranger team, and they are in constant contact with local landowners to monitor red squirrels and eradicate any greys that venture in.

“Indeed, the issue is the very presence of grey squirrels – grey squirrels are the Hamas of the squirrel world.”

He went on to suggest there should be “greater integration” between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and local red squirrel groups in the devolved institutions to ensure they have the “means necessary to preserve and expand the red squirrel species throughout Northern Ireland”.