Belfast Telegraph

Email 'reassurance' I was coming back as minister, claims DUP's Jim Wells

DUP MLA Jim Wells is expecting disciplinary action from the party
DUP MLA Jim Wells is expecting disciplinary action from the party

DUP MLA Jim Wells claims an email from his former party leader Peter Robinson demonstrates there was a commitment for him to return to the Executive as health minister.

Mr Wells resigned as health minister after he was falsely accused of linking child abuse to same sex marriage.

In a no-holds-barred interview with the Belfast Telegraph last week, Mr Wells said he had reached an agreement with Mr Robinson to step down from his ministerial role in April 2015, claiming the former party leader agreed he would return “after the dust settled”.

Peter Robinson denied there was a specific promise saying his words were "much more careful".

The BBC, on Monday, reports of an email from April 2015 which quotes the then DUP leader as saying he "would be happy to see him back in government" and that "no impediment was placed in his being able to return to office".

Mr Wells himself offered to return to the health ministry on a temporary basis.

The South Down representative, who has been a DUP member for 43 years, an MLA for 24 years and was a councillor for 11 years, is among the longest serving public representatives at Stormont.

He suspects he has been sidelined by the party because of his "old-fashioned and traditional" views.

He told the BBC: "I had fallen on my sword to protect the party from a very difficult situation.

"I had the reassurance I was coming back and I felt very offended that, for two years, nobody would respond to me when I asked for that promise to be redeemed."

The DUP is conducting a review of Mr Wells' comments and said it would not be providing a running commentary. The veteran politician has said he expects to be disciplined.

A DUP spokeswoman said: "The party is aware of the comments. This is an internal matter. The party will not be giving a running commentary."

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