Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Jim Wells could be disciplined over gay councillor remarks

Jim Wells
Jim Wells

By Staff Reporter

DUP Leader Arlene Foster has said her party will have to consider comments made by former Stormont Minister Jim Wells after the election of gay DUP candidate Alison Bennington as a councillor.

Mr Wells, who is a DUP MLA for South Down, criticised the selection of Ms Bennington as a party candidate. Arlene Foster said her party will look at a number of issues including "bad behaviour" by party members once the dust settles after last week's Northern Ireland local elections.

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Mrs Foster's comments come after Mr Wells, claimed that party founder and former First Minister, Rev Ian Paisley, would have been be "aghast" at the decision to run gay DUP candidate Alison Bennington.

The DUP's founder - later Lord Bannside - once led a campaign to, in his words "save Ulster from sodomy" and prevent the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Mr Wells - a former Health Minister and a veteran party member - is a long-standing opponent of same-sex marriage.

He claimed that after Ms Bennington's election he was contacted by many DUP voters who were "very concerned" about the decision to put her forward as a candidate in the local government elections.

However, party leader Mrs Foster said at the weekend that she was delighted to see Ms Bennington elected.

Asked how she would deal with Mr Wells' comments about Ms Bennington's selection as a party candidate, the former First Minister said: "Well, of course he (Mr Wells) shouldn't have been making those comments on the media.

"He should have been coming through the normal routes, through the party, if he had concerns about those issues.

"But we'll look at all of those issues after the election. We'll be looking at vote management schemes, we'll be looking at where we did very well - and we'll be looking at bad behaviour as well," Mrs Foster said.

Asked if Mr Wells would still be a member of the party, Mrs Foster replied: "I'm not going to pre-judge any process, if it were to happen.

"I think it's wrong to do that. You have to allow due process to take its course, so we will have to wait and see what happens."

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