Belfast Telegraph

It's fair game to take a pop at my politics, but not my disability, says councillor

Councillor Graham Craig
Councillor Graham Craig
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

A DUP councillor who is registered blind has spoken of his shock and disgust after his appearance was mocked on social media.

Graham Craig, who is seeking re-election in Belfast's Botanic ward in next month's local government elections, said those who made fun of him were "far from being the progressives they proclaim to be".

Mr Craig is blind in one eye and has limited sight in the other.

A photograph of his election literature saying he wanted to protect parts of the Botanic area from being bulldozed was posted on a political page on Facebook.

But attention then focused on the DUP councillor's appearance.

One person said he had "tiny, tiny eyes". Another stated: "His eyes are funny, ya don't think he's the other sort do ya??"

One person said: "Ask him to look you straight in the eye."

Another person used sexual language to criticise the councillor's appearance.

Mr Craig last night told the Belfast Telegraph: "Politicians should have thick skins.

"I have no problem with anybody having a pop at my politics or anything I state in my literature, that's fair game.

"But I am shocked and disgusted that people who call themselves progressive are making fun of my eyes.

"I don't like speaking out about my disability as I don't let it define me but I can't allow these comments to pass."

Mr Craig said he suffered from a rare genetic condition which resulted in him being born blind in one eye and having limited sight in the other.

Elected as a UUP councillor in 2014, he defected to the DUP two years ago. He said he had faced "a few snide comments" from some political opponents over his eyesight in City Hall but he had "chosen not to make a big deal out of it".

The DUP councillor said that canvassing in elections presented practical problems for him.

"It is tough and I can't go into a street on my own but I have some good friends who come with me," he said.

"I do walk into things like the odd lamppost when I'm out and about, and it's hard for me to find letterboxes when I'm delivering leaflets.

"But the biggest disadvantage is that when you can't see people well you can't read their body language and you really need to be able to do that and pick up on the signs when canvassing.

"The other difficulty is posing for photographs.

"Even when I think I'm looking straight, I'm not."

Mr Craig is from Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

His sister Jayne, who also suffers from the condition, is a disability rights campaigner.

Last month the DUP told Mr Craig to withdraw a controversial leaflet saying he would campaign for 'local homes for local people', saying it wasn't sanctioned by the party.

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