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Kyle Paisley hits out at Edwin Poots over comments that DUP 'hold their noses' when working with Sinn Fein

By Claire Williamson

Published 08/10/2015

Former Health Minister Edwin Poots
Former Health Minister Edwin Poots

A son of the late Ian Paisley has hit out at DUP MLA Edwin Poots over comments he made saying his party 'hold their noses' when doing business with Sinn Fein.

Former health minister Edwin Poots made the outburst during a debate on the BBC Nolan Live on Wednesday night.

Addressing Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey, Mr Poots said: "We do business with you because it is in the interest of Northern Ireland that we have peace in Northern Ireland. We hold our noses and do business with you.

"We do that because it is in the wider interest of Northern Ireland."

Mr Poots continued: "I do not like doing business with Sinn Fein. I hold my nose about what has went on in the past about the activities of the IRA over 25 years, the murders that took place and there is a stench that still rises from that in many homes across Northern Ireland.

"I know it from our community that they do not like the fact that Sinn Fein are in government but we will work with Sinn Fein because its in the interest of Northern Ireland."

In response Mr Maskey said the DUP "have no choice" and said that Mr Poots was showing his "true colours."

He said: "The problem is you will work with Sinn Fein and you do work with Sinn Fein because Sinn Fein has a mandate, you have no choice.

"What I would rather you do is embrace power sharing. I would much rather that your party and people like yourself would embrace the notion of equality and partnership and join in the institutions.

"My party want to work with the parties to build reconciliation to build a better society and break down the barriers between ourselves."

Kyle Paisley, one of the sons of the former First Minister who lead the power-sharing Executive and was praised as the politician who cemented Northern Ireland's peace process, said it was "rather disappointing" to hear the comments.

He told BBC Talkback: "For Unionists to go into government with Sinn Fein and then talk about their partners in government in that sort of language, it  makes unionism look bad.

"And while Sinn Fein hold their patience on television it makes them look good - and that's not good for Unionism, it's not good for the electorate and the people who voted for them either.

"It was a bit of a shock. I remember the comments made about Gregory Campbell last year when he made

"But I think this was in some sense stronger. It is pretty raw language.

"And if you are sharing power with people you can't talk about them like that publicly. You might feel like that privately about them but it's not going to recommend yourself to the electorate when you speak like about the people you are governing Northern Ireland along with."

Speaking on Good Morning Ulster today, Mr Poots defended his comments.

He said: "The reality is that many people across Northern Ireland, they find it appalling that Sinn Fein are in government given the history of what happened in Northern Ireland and their association with the IRA.

"They have a mandate but they have an association with the IRA who committed over 2000 murders in Northern Ireland and that is something that is very hard to for all of us to accept.

"But we do it because we want to ensure there isn't thousands of more people lose their lives as results of trouble in Northern Ireland  in years to come.

"Whenever I look across the benches at Stormont, I see people who have been charged and convicted and served lengthy prison sentences for the most heinous of crimes, and that is not the case for republicans."

He added: "I work with those people because they have got a mandate but that doesn't mean I have to like it."

Simon Hamilton, one of the DUP's 'absent' ministers, who is currently under fire from not fulfilling his role as health minister, said he "understood" the comments.

He added: "I think my generation maybe didn't suffer as much as others did during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, but that doesn't mean that I don't forget what the IRA did."

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