Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley criticised for online attack on News Letter journalist

Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley

DUP MP Ian Paisley has been criticised for an online attack on News Letter journalist Sam McBride.

The North Antrim MP strongly criticised the newspaper's Political Editor after he wrote an article saying the DUP had effectively prioritised opposing an Irish Language Act over resisting the relaxation of Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

National Union of Journalists Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley said that Mr Paisley's comments in a Facebook post "went beyond the bounds of political discourse".

He claimed that Mr Paisley had launched a "personal" and "extremely damaging" attack on Mr McBride.

"Sam McBride outlined the current political context in Northern Ireland. As an experienced political analysist, he set out the facts and placed them in the context of the current political situation in the UK. At no stage has he expressed a personal opinion on the substantive subject of abortion," Mr Dooley said.

"Ian Paisley’s consequent attack on Sam McBride was unwarranted and unworthy of an MP. It was a clear attempt to smear the professional reputation of a conscientious journalist. The tone and tenor of Mr Paisley’s comments were unacceptable and completely misrepresent the position of Mr McBride."

UUP leader Robin Swann said that Mr Paisley's comments were "extremely disappointing" and accused of of having "played the man rather than the ball".

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood described the comments as a "total disgrace", while Alliance leader Naomi Long said that attacking Mr McBride "so personally is bullying".

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