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'Ashamed and embarrassed': UUP leader Doug Beattie apologises for historic tweets


Doug Beattie

Doug Beattie

Doug Beattie

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie has said he is "deeply ashamed and embarrassed" after being made aware of the content of tweets sent by him in the past.

It's after Mr Beattie was condemned by many politicians for a message he posted at the weekend which targeted the wife of Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots and which the Upper Bann politician said was posted as a joke.

Mr Beattie has now said other tweets also posted by him were also "totally unacceptable". "They do not reflect the opinions or values I hold today," he said on Monday afternoon.

"From the time I entered politics I have made a serious effort to increase the representation of women and advocate policies which would improve the lives and wellbeing of all women and girls. That is where I stand and I deeply regret the fact that these historic tweets could serve to undermine that position."

He added: "Misogyny is something which must be taken very seriously and dealt with through education, listening and understanding. I am sorry that in the past I have fallen short, but I will continue to listen first and foremost to the voices of women and girls. My actions going forward will be consistent with the values I hold."

Earlier on Monday, Mr Beattie apologised to Edwin Poots, his wife and the wider community after Mr Poots said his wife was "disgusted" by the content of the tweet.

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Speaking at the Assembly on Monday, UUP leader Doug Beattie said: "We must guard against language that is both hurtful and harmful. Over the weekend I let my guard down and for that I am truly sorry.

“I posted a joke, and regardless of what my intentions were, it wasn’t just inappropriate, it was absolutely wrong, fundamentally wrong.

“Therefore it’s important that I stand here and I say to Mr and Mrs Poots and I am sorry for the hurt that I may have caused.”

Mr Beattie insisted he was "genuinely sincere" in his apology for the tweet, which reflected an imagined scene where he and Mr Poots are in a barber shop and with a punchline that makes reference to Glynis Poots and a brothel.

But speaking to the Nolan Show, Mr Poots said it was wrong for anyone to draw family members into political debate, saying they are entitled to privacy.

He said his wife didn't want to be involved in public life and added: "I'm a big boy, I can take a lot of abuse in politics and that's fine, but [he] shouldn't be drawing other members of people's families into anything, they have their right to their private life and, unfortunately, that has been infringed when it comes to my family.”

The content of the tweet “demeans women in general", he said. "[It] demeans one woman in particular and that one woman happens to be my wife and my children's mother.”

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