Belfast Telegraph

DUP mocked MLA over attending event for 'antichrist' Pope - you are dragging unionism down, says Beattie

Those that mocked an Ulster Unionist MLA over his attendance at a reception for the Pope in Dublin are dragging unionism down by their lack of inclusion, an MLA said.

Lagan Valley MLA Robbie Butler told The Irish News one MLA "wagged his finger" telling him he had made a mistake before saying "you know he's the antichrist". While another crossed himself in a mocking gesture as he passed the politician in a corridor at Stormont.

"It was a throwback to the 1970," said Mr Butler who did not disclose the identity of those MLAs.

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said those that mocked or criticised Mr Butler were "dragging unionism down by your lack of inclusion".

Thousands descended on Dublin for the Pope's first visit in over 30 years. All the main Northern Ireland parties - Sinn Fein, Alliance, SDLP and UUP - sent a representative to the event, 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 said he had made the right decision in attending the event and enjoyed the occasion. He said he was, however, disappointed in 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 Christian, Protestant and unionist and came back as 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."

The DUP has been approached for comment.

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