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Peter Robinson: Jim's comments were neither his nor party's views

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Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson

Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson

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Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson

On a better day Jim would never have made such a comment. He has been under incredible pressure in the last number of months with his wife being ill in hospital.

He has dedicated himself to running a very sizable Department during the day and sitting by Grace's bedside at night.

As soon as Jim uttered those words, he knew he had said the wrong thing.

He got the attention of the chairman to try and rectify the comment.

He was not pushed by anyone to clarify his comments, rather he sought to correct them immediately.

Within hours of the event ending, Jim released a heartfelt apology.

As Jim has said, those comments were neither his view nor the view of the Party. Indeed, they never will be the view of the party. We fully support single-parent families.

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I know the excellent job that is done by single parents trying to keep a family and provide a loving household.

There is no attempt by Jim or anyone else to make any disparaging comment about those who effectively are heroines and heroes every day in our province.

There are gay and lesbian supporters of the DUP and there are DUP supporters who have family who are gay.

We must always be understanding of these issues and recognise the diversity of our society.

The DUP doesn't believe in the redefinition of marriage and alongside MLAs from other parties we will oppose this in the Assembly.

There are civil partnerships which provide legal protections for those of the same sex who want to live together.

However, I don't believe marriage should be redefined because marriage is a union between one man and one woman.

Jim would not have wanted to offend anyone. He immediately sought to put his comments right.

However, the damage has been done and Jim regrets it.

He has attempted to make it clear that he is genuinely sorry. He has done the right thing by voluntarily and swiftly apologising for the remarks.

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