Belfast Telegraph

DUP councillor slams Arlene Foster for 'flouting Lord's Day' at GAA match

By Mark Edwards

A DUP councillor has written an open letter to Arlene Foster expressing his "deep sorrow and indignation" at her presence at the Ulster GAA Final "on the Lord's Day".

DUP leader Mrs Foster's visit to the match between Fermanagh and Donegal in Monaghan on Sunday was hailed as a step towards reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

But Causeway Coast and Glens Borough councillor John Finlay said Mrs Foster had been "dismissive and patronising" about those who were uncomfortable with her attendance at the Final in Clones.

"I wonder if you have any appreciation of the depth and extent of the hurt you have caused across the party membership and its support base," Mr Finlay wrote on his Facebook page.

"How you treat the Lord's Day in your own personal life is a matter for you, but, as leader of my party, you have no right to publicly flout it on the grounds that it is necessary to do so on the basis of promoting a shared society.

"As we seek to move Northern Ireland forward, I fully recognise that there must be room for manoeuvre in any negotiating situation. However, I would contend that biblical standards are absolutes and therefore non- negotiable."

He added that the DUP "has always held to a high view of the Lord's Day, as a cursory glance at our record in this area will confirm, and it is extremely upsetting that you feel that you can suddenly sweep that aside because you regard it as politically expedient to do so".

He added: "God will bless faithfulness to Him."

Meanwhile, another North Antrim unionist politician hit out at Mrs Foster for her upcoming attendance at an LGBT event at Stormont.

Mrs Foster accepted an invite to the PinkNews reception to be held tomorrow. It is the first time a DUP leader has agreed to take part in such an occasion.

The move is seen as an attempt by the former First Minister to improve her party's reputation with the local LGBT community.

The DUP remains opposed to same-sex marriage here, with the party arguing that civil partnerships are already available and it believes marriage is solely between a man and a woman.

TUV leader Jim Allister has questioned Mrs Foster's attendance at the event.

"Not only is the DUP leader going to represent her whole party at the LGBT-lauding event on Thursday, but it now turns out one of her MLAs is a sponsor of the PinkNews celebration," he said.

"Events can only be held in Stormont when sponsored by three MLAs.

"One of those lending her name to this event is DUP MLA Paula Bradley.

"So, the DUP's association with this event is greater than the leader attending as an invitee.

"The event is said to celebrate the contribution of the LGBT community to Northern Ireland.

"Does that include celebrating the LGBT orchestrated campaign against Ashers bakery and the assault on the definition of marriage? Maybe Mrs Foster can tell us."

The event will also be addressed by UUP leader Robin Swann, who accepted an invitation to attend some months ago "without fanfare or publicity".

UUP MLA Doug Beattie also said political unionism had been slow to engage with the LGBT community, adding that Northern Ireland was often a "cold house" for the gay and transgender community.

He said: "This has not been helped by the harsh language from the DUP in the past that has added nothing but hurt over the last number of decades."

The DUP had not responded to a request for comment by the time of going to press last night.

Belfast Telegraph

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