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Row over DUP man's coronavirus 'God's judgement' claims rumbles on

An Alliance councillor has vowed she will not be silenced after a row with a veteran DUP representative over comments he made about coronavirus.

John Carson said in March that Covid-19 was a "judgment from God", claiming the pandemic was God's wrath for abortion and same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

He apologised, saying his comments were "misinterpreted".

However, he has since stressed he did not apologise for what he said, instead hitting out at the media for "blowing the matter out of proportion".

At a meeting last month of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Mr Carson clashed with Alliance's Patricia O'Lynn over the matter.

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Alliance councillor Patricia O'Lynn

Alliance councillor Patricia O'Lynn

Alliance councillor Patricia O'Lynn

After Mr Carson praised the community spirit shown during the pandemic, Ms O'Lynn said she was "delighted" that he accepted lessons had been learned from the experience.

"I would just like to reiterate that coronavirus did not discriminate among gender, race, religion or sexual lines and I hope that he is taking this opportunity to reflect on his comments made about attributing blame to certain members of our community," she said.

Ms O'Lynn said that she hoped Mr Carson would continue to meet the standards expected of a councillor in future.

However, Mr Carson rejected her comments, saying that he "made no apology for what he said".

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Controversy: John Carson

Controversy: John Carson

Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Controversy: John Carson

"I am going to take no lessons from anyone that supports the murder of the unborn child and I want to make that very, very, clear," he told the council.

"I stand over what I said, but the media blew the whole thing out of proportion and took a statement that I said and made it out that I said something which I didn't say."

At Monday's full council meeting Ms O'Lynn attempted to query the accuracy of the minutes of the June meeting in reference to the exchange and asked for Mr Carson's comments on her stance on abortion to be included.

However, DUP mayor Peter Johnston said that as her request was made outside the 24-hour cut-off point for amendments, it could not be heard.

Following the meeting she said that while she would normally accept the decision of the mayor, she felt the need to speak out. She said that she would not be "silenced".

In response, Mr Johnston said: "Councillor O'Lynn's request was outside standing orders, therefore with a very busy agenda for a meeting which lasted more than four hours, it was my job as mayor to ensure business was completed.

"I stand by my decision."

Belfast Telegraph