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Father Ted writer Graham Linehan says Edwin Poots 'sexist' praise of Arlene Foster shows challenge facing Northern Ireland abortion campaigners

By Staff Reporter

Published 12/01/2016

Former Health Minister Edwin Poots
Former Health Minister Edwin Poots
New First Minister Arlene Foster talks to our reporter Noel McAdam in Stormont's Parliament Buildings yesterday
New First Minister Arlene Foster talks to our reporter Noel McAdam in Stormont's Parliament Buildings yesterday
New First Minister Arlene Foster talks to our reporter Noel McAdam in Stormont's Parliament Buildings yesterday
New First Minister Arlene Foster talks to our reporter Noel McAdam in Stormont's Parliament Buildings yesterday
New First Minister Arlene Foster talks to our reporter Noel McAdam in Stormont's Parliament Buildings yesterday
New First Minister Arlene Foster talks to our reporter Noel McAdam in Stormont's Parliament Buildings yesterday
Arlene Foster is hugged by her mother Georgina Kelly after becoming First Minister of Northern Ireland yesterday

Father Ted writer Graham Linehan has highlighted comments made by Edwin Poots - which led to the DUP MLA being accused of sexism - saying it shows the difficulty of bringing about a change in Northern Ireland abortion laws.

Mr Poots told the Assembly that the new First Minister's job would still be first and foremost as "a wife, mother and daughter".

Some took to social media to vent their frustrations at what they labelled "sexist" remarks.

Comedy writer Mr Linehan - a campaigner for the reform of abortion laws - said the former health minister's comments showed "what women in Northern Ireland are up against in the abortion fight" in a tweet.

As MLAs lined up to congratulate Arlene Foster after she became Northern Ireland's first female leader, Mr Poots appeared to strike a sour note with some.

"In congratulating Arlene on her elevation to the post of First Minister, I should say that it is the second most important job that she will ever take on," he said.

"Her most important job has been, and will remain, that of a wife, mother and daughter. Family will always come first. I know that that will be the case with Arlene, and it should be the case."

The remarks prompted accusations of sexism on social media. Former DUP member Deirdre Nelson wrote: "The party is a cold house for women. Bullying of competent women remains rife and little is done to stop it.

"As for their attitudes towards women's rights and any kind of equality: non-existent."

Castlereagh man Alan Carson wrote: "Could you imagine a member of Plaid or the SNP even thinking like that about Ms Wood or Ms Sturgeon?"

Later, Mr Poots clarified his remarks by posting: “When I was health minister I described it as the second most important job I had ever done, the first being a husband, father and son.

"So when wishing Arlene Foster well in here new role as First Minister today I said it was her second most important job, the first being a wife, mother and daughter because family always comes first.

"Some silly liberal types have attempted to misconstrue this as sexist. Arlene will make a great First Minister not least because she cherishes the family and its values.”

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