Paisley defends himself in gay remarks storm
DUP man denies minister code breach
Published 01/06/2007 | 11:45
Ian Paisley junior today denied breaching the ministerial code over his remarks on homosexuals - and insisted his personal opinion had no bearing on his role as a junior minister.
Facing possible Assembly censure for his assertion that gays "without caring ... harm society", Mr Paisley argued his views are not discriminatory and he did not advocate bias or incitement.
The North Antrim MLA also made clear the Hot Press interview was arranged through his own private office, rather than the Office of the First Ministers where he is a Junior Minister along with Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly.
In his first interview since the Dublin magazine was printed, the North Antrim MLA said: "I do not hate homosexuals. I do not hate anyone. I was not brought up to hate anyone."
He told the News Letter: "I was asked for my view. I do not think my answer was outrageous or offensive. If you look in the Oxford English Dictionary for the definition of repulsion, it is disgust. That is my personal opinion ... and I was honest."
A motion of censure against the Junior Minister has been tabled but it is not clear whether the issue will be heard in the Assembly next week.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said there was a "problem" because the Office of the First and Deputy First Ministers (OFMDFM) has a duty to uphold rights enshrined in legislation.
"I certainly think that we have a problem insofar as a junior minister in that department has expressed views which are a total contradiction of everything that the OFMDFM is charged to do in terms of protecting the rights of all sorts of people within our society, including minorities," he added.
But Mr Paisley said today: "We have reached a situation where political correctness has gone mad.
"Nowhere in what I said did I breach the Ministerial Code and nor do I believe my comments impact in the slightest possible way on any piece of legislation or any work my department does.
"Neither do they have a bearing on my ability to do my job as a minister of the Crown. You can separate personal opinion from legal obligation."
The North Antrim MLA stressed the Hot Press interview, conducted a few weeks ago at Stormont, had been in a personal capacity - and he had been pressed on the issue of homosexuality.