Belfast Telegraph

Donaldson slams DUP ‘antichrist’ jibes over unionist’s papal meeting

By Staff Reporter

The DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has described as "unacceptable" the mocking of an Ulster Unionist MLA over his attendance at a reception for Pope Francis.

Lagan Valley MLA Robbie Butler told The Irish News that two DUP MLAs ridiculed him for travelling to the event in Dublin.

He did not name them, but said one "wagged his finger" telling him he had made a mistake, before saying, "you know he's the antichrist".

Mr Butler said another crossed himself in a mocking gesture as he passed him in a corridor at Stormont.

He said he was left stunned: "It was a throwback to the 1970s."

Responding, Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he wanted to get to the bottom of the allegations.

He said he took the MLA on his word the incidents happened.

"I will be happy to speak to Robbie, I know him very well. And if Robbie wants to pass on the details of what happened then we can look at that," he said.

"That kind of behaviour is not acceptable."

All the main Northern Ireland parties - Sinn Fein, Alliance, SDLP and UUP - sent a representative to the Pope's visit to the Republic, bar the DUP.

Arlene Foster said she could not attend as she was away on a family holiday. The event also clashed with the annual Black Saturday parades.

Mr Butler attended as his party leader Robin Swann could not.

He later said he had made the right decision in attending the event and enjoyed the occasion. He said he was, however, disappointed that the Pope did not go further in addressing the legacy of clerical child abuse.

"If you can't be a good neighbour, you can't expect to have good neighbours," he said.

"I went to Dublin as a Christian, Protestant and unionist and came back as a Christian, Protestant and unionist."

Doug Beattie, UUP MLA for Upper Bann, added: "You'll not find a more honourable man in NI politics than Robbie Butler - those that mocked him or criticised his actions need to understand you are dragging unionism down by your lack of inclusion."

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