Belfast Telegraph

Second apology in golf comments row

A second Stormont minister has apologised for having referred to golf clubs in a bid to flag up sectarianism in the middle classes.

Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson said she regretted how the remark had been misunderstood.

She had echoed the comments of the DUP's Jonathan Bell when he told a conference on combating religious divisions that prejudice existed in all sections of society, including those that attended golf clubs or held dinner parties.

He apologised for the remark after he was accused of insulting golfers and now his fellow junior minister Ms Anderson has followed suit. She declined to comment in the aftermath of Monday's conference but has now apologised and said the row was a distraction from the serious issue of eradicating sectarianism.

Ms Anderson said: "Without doubt I regret the confusion that was caused by the metaphor."

She added: "Of course I do regret the confusion it has caused. I do apologise for anyone who misunderstood the way I was using the metaphor."

Mr Bell referred to all sections of society in his conference remarks and said: "Many communities may not paint their kerb stones or put out flags, but scratch the surface and you find the prejudice and the hate whispered behind closed doors or joked about in golf clubs or over dinner parties."

Ms Anderson said the comments, which she went on to echo at the event, were intended to point out that sectarianism exists across all sections of society and is not confined to any particular social group.

"Sectarianism extends across our society," she said. "We need to have a look at all aspects of it. They are not confined to any religious sect."

She added: "I think we need, as a society, to put our hands on our hearts and come forward and let's have a conversation about what has been a taboo subject."


From Belfast Telegraph