Belfast Telegraph

TUV man Donald Crawford branded a 'dinosaur' after explosive rant at Catholics, gays and migrants

By Staff reporter

A TUV Assembly candidate in Fermanagh and South Tyrone who refuses to say if he has any Catholic friends claims nationalists have been "brainwashed" by republicans to despise unionists.

In an astonishing outburst, Lisbellaw farmer Donald Crawford also claimed that "we are being overrun" by migrants, with some "coming here for easy money".

Mr Crawford also accused gay people of "shoving their issues down my throat".

Despite being asked five times whether he had any Catholic friends, the farmer gave no definitive answer.

He also accused First Minister Arlene Foster of "blackmailing the unionist community" by raising the spectre of a nationalist First Minister after May's Assembly elections.

Mr Crawford's incendiary remarks came in an interview published in the current issue of the Impartial Reporter.

SDLP councillor Richie McPhillips slammed what he described as Mr Crawford's "dinosaur diatribe" and called on the TUV man to apologise.

"This incredible outburst from Donald Crawford reveals a deep-rooted and dangerous ignorance that lies at the heart of the TUV," he said.

"I am a proud nationalist, I will never be ashamed of that. To suggest that I, and the thousands like me across Fermanagh and South Tyrone, have been brainwashed into despising unionists is an outrageous slur and Mr Crawford should withdraw the remarks immediately.

"This kind of dinosaur diatribe has no place in our community, these counties or this country.

"Mr Crawford should apologise for his comments and his party should seek to distance themselves from this dangerous rhetoric."

First Minister Arlene Foster, meanwhile, dismissed Mr Crawford's remarks as "sniping from the sidelines".

"I make no secret of my desire to continue leading Northern Ireland," she said.

"The largest party will return the First Minister and will have the first choice of the departmental picks.

"I have outlined my key priorities to deliver a better future. The people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, like elsewhere in Northern Ireland, want strong leadership, not sniping from the sidelines."

On the subject of homosexuality, Mr Crawford made it very clear that he did not approve of same-sex marriage.

"I wouldn't be for it - it's one of my Christian beliefs," he said. "I am not against LGBT people, I don't hate them. I believe what they do in their own time and their own space is up to them.

"I let them get on with it, but whenever they come out and start shoving their issues down my throat as a Christian and other Christians' throats, maybe that's whenever it becomes a wee bit of an issue.

"My message to them is that they have nothing to fear from Donald Crawford, I don't hate you. What you do in your own time is between you and God."

But John O'Doherty, director of The Rainbow Project, hit back, saying: "My message to Donald Crawford is that you have nothing to fear from the LGBT community.

"What you believe is entirely a matter for you - just don't shove it down our throats or expect our rights to be determined by your beliefs.

"The fact remains that the majority of people in Northern Ireland support LGBT equality, including equal marriage.

"Whoever is returned to the Northern Ireland Assembly after this election, I hope that they listen to the will of the people and address the inequalities experienced by our community in the next mandate and beyond."

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