Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Elliot 'backed' over gay comments

Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott says he has backing from the gay community

Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott, under fire for comments on the GAA and gay rights, has claimed he has been backed by sections of both communities despite the controversy.

The Co Fermanagh Orangeman, who took over the party's top job earlier this year, is marking his first 100 days in office.

But he denied his tenure had been overshadowed by his controversial declaration that he would not attend a Gaelic football match or a gay pride event.

Mr Elliott claimed to have received backing from elements in both sectors despite the remarks that he characterised as straight-talking.

"All I clearly said was I hadn't went to a GAA match and a gay pride march and I had no intention of doing it," he said.

"That doesn't say I will never do it. All I am saying is, I have no intention. The day may come when I will."

He added: "I have to say it's quite interesting that I have actually got support from both communities.

"I read on a gay website just shortly after it, saying 'at least this person's being up front and honest with us and he's not trying to come here for a photo opportunity and take some sort of privilege that he doesn't deserve'."

While monitoring internet comments on the row, he also said he had met representatives of the GAA's Ulster Council, and said a pledge to build relations was agreed.

He added: "I am really about getting things done and delivering, as opposed to just doing stunts."

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