Gay blood donor ban: DUP Health Minister Edwin Poots erupts over row
Published 06/11/2013 | 01:30
DUP Health Minister Edwin Poots has launched a blistering attack on Sinn Fein over his controversial ban on blood from gay donors.
His fury came after a motion from Sinn Fein calling on him to lift the ban was passed in the Assembly.
The motion also called on him to "outline what steps he will take to build public confidence in relation to statutory equality duties".
Mr Poots accused Sinn Fein of being more interested in covering up for its "paedophile-protecting President" Gerry Adams – a reference to the conviction of the former West Belfast MP's brother Liam for abusing his daughter – than in serving the public.
Mr Poots also hit out at judges over the ruling on his controversial ban on blood from gay donors, accusing them of taking power away from elected representatives and attacking Christianity.
He also dismissed calls for his resignation and firmly rebuked the courts for "attacking Christian views and ethics", following the recent High Court verdict against his stance.
"What we have witnessed is a degree of judicial activism that means that judges are making the laws, as opposed to Parliament, or in this case, the devolved administration making the laws," he said.
The DUP minister also revealed he and his family have received abuse over the blood ban issue.
Amid a chorus of shouting from Sinn Fein benches – and calls for order from Speaker William Hay – Mr Poots argued that in bringing the motion against him, Sinn Fein MLAs had failed to realise the problems the court judgment would cause for their own ministers.
He said the High Court judgment gave less power to the larger parties on the Executive – his own and Sinn Fein – and as a unionist he would have no problem with powers going back to Westminster.
Mr Poots said "shame on the courts" for going down the route of attacking Christian principles and ethics on which society in Northern Ireland was based.
He also said he was reluctant to consider appealing the judgement because he was not sure he would get a fair hearing in the Court of Appeal.
The DUP minister said he believed the learned judge had got it "completely and wholly wrong".
Green Party's Steven Agnew said: "Edwin Poots appears to have been on a personal crusade to do all he can to prevent homosexual men being treated equally with heterosexual men... whether on marriage equality, civil partners adopting or the ban on blood. If he cannot meet his equality duties, he should resign."