Belfast Telegraph

National Trust says organisation is 'for everyone' after Jim Wells row

The National Trust has said it is an organisation "for ever, for everyone" after DUP MLA Jim Wells said that he would be cutting his ties with the charity over its stance on gay rights.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Wells specifically cited the National Heritage's participation in the weekend's Belfast Pride event as part of the reason for his decision.

The South Down MLA, who is a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage, said the National Trust would be better "staying away from controversial social issues" that had nothing to do with why it was set up.

In its statement, the organisation said: "The National Trust is an organisation that is for ever, for everyone.

"We are committed to developing and promoting equality of opportunity and inclusion in all that we do regardless of age, disability, gender, reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, paternity and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation," it said.

Prejudice and Pride is a Trust-wide initiative. We attended Belfast Pride to show the Trust’s support and to demonstrate our commitment to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. National Trust spokesperson

This followed Alliance Party leader Naomi Long's announcement that she was joining the National Trust after Mr Wells said he was severing ties.

Ms Long made the statement on her Twitter account on Sunday, declaring: "I hear Jim Wells left @NationalTrustNI for supporting #BelfastPride. Well, it prompted me to join. #CelebrateDiversity".

Speaking on the BBC's Nolan Show, Ms Long said that "at the end of the day I think it is a matter for Jim what organisations he joins and doesn’t join".

"I mean obviously he chose to make a public statement about not wanting to be involved in the National Trust because of their support for Pride," she said.

"From my perspective rather than them think that perhaps it made a decision that was going to be difficult, I wanted to show them in a tangible way that I supported what they were doing.

"And I guess that’s why I joined. Because I wanted them to be aware that there are lots of people out there who admire the stance that they’ve taken in terms of encouraging people to be supportive on these issues."

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