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Church of Ireland minister Watson apologises over Michelle O'Neill blonde jibe



Canon Mark Watson

Canon Mark Watson

Canon Mark Watson

A Church of Ireland minister who sparked controversy after becoming embroiled in the 'blondegate' political row - by saying he was "glad hydrogen peroxide is dyeing hair blonde and not going into creamery cans to make explosives" - has apologised for his remarks.

Canon Mark Watson, rector of Trory and Killadeas, stated that he was sorry "for any offence his remarks may have caused".

His comments, made on Sunday at a UUP campaign rally for Tom Elliott in an Orange Hall in Enniskillen, followed on remarks made last week by DUP leader Arlene Foster.

She said the word she would use to describe Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill was "blonde".

At the event, Canon Watson is reported to have said: "Our friend the first minister mentioned the blondes.

"I am glad they are blondes because it means the hydrogen peroxide that's dyeing the hair isn't going into creamery cans to make explosives."

He added: "I hope there are no press about or I've lost my job."

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Canon Watson later told media that his words were meant as "a private joke" at a "private function".

Sinn Fein's Jemma Dolan, MLA, called Canon Watson's remarks "extraordinary and outrageous" and said the politicians should distance themselves from "sexist, disrespectful and nasty commentary".

On Tuesday night a Church of Ireland spokesman said: "Canon Watson apologises for any offence his remarks may have caused."

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