Belfast Telegraph

Foster attending GAA match was 'retrograde step' insists minister

By Lisa Smyth

Arlene Foster has come under fire from a leading figure in the Free Presbyterian Church for attending a sporting event on a Sunday.

Rev Ian Brown also attacked a decision by Belfast City Council to hold next year's marathon on a Sunday instead of the first Bank Holiday Monday in May.

In a stinging rebuke aimed at politicians across Northern Ireland, the firebrand minister said: "Both developments cause incredible angst and offence to Christians who treasure the special nature of God's holy day."

Rev Brown, branded a decision by a number of politicians, including DUP leader Arlene Foster, to attend last week's GAA final as a "retrograde step".

Ms Foster was among the crowd at the Ulster Football Final between Donegal and Fermanagh in Co Monaghan on June 24, and sat close to Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill at the event.

Explaining her presence at the match, Mrs Foster said her party wanted to take steps towards a "shared society".

However, Rev Brown said: "If it is the genuine desire of politicians in our country to secure the brightest of futures for the citizens of our beautiful country, then showing appropriate respect for God's Day instead of targeting it for relentless selfish assault would be a good place to begin."

Rev Brown, who once said Europe is being punished by God for its wickedness through homosexuality and the growing scourge of Islamist extremists, also said that charities would lose out as a result of the decision to move the Belfast marathon to a Sunday.

Rev Brown said changing the day of the marathon will "exclude a considerable number of Christians from participation in a race through which finances have been raised for many charitable causes and will radically inconvenience others in their attempts to proceed to their places of worship".

He also said that respect, tolerance and equality must be reciprocated but that this is not currently the case.

The council's Growth and Regeneration Committee approved the changes last Wednesday with cross-party support and will go before the full council this evening.

Belfast Telegraph

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