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Watchdog set to probe Iris’s stance on gays

By Lesley-Anne Henry

The Assembly's standards watchdog was last night urged to investigate Iris Robinson's anti-gay comments.

It comes as the PSNI confirmed it was launching a probe into the controversial comments after receiving at least two official complaints.

Last week the DUP MP and MLA sparked a huge row when she described homosexuality as an "abomination" and claimed gay people could be 'turned around' with psychiatric help.

Appeals have been lodged with Tom Frawley, the Interim Assembly Commissioner for Standards who will consider whether or not to launch an investigation. It is understood MLAs will also make representations to Mr Frawley.

Asked about the complaints, a spokeswoman said: "We do not comment until any investigative process is complete."

The saga is a political embarrassment for the DUP, overshadowing her husband Peter Robinson's appointment as new First Minister.

The comments were made in the wake of a homophobic attack in which Stephen Scott (27), from Newtownabbey, suffered a head injury, a leg injury and broken ribs.

Three youths, thought to be in their late teens, knocked him to the ground and continued kicking and punching him as they shouted insults.

Sinn Fein has demanded Mrs Robinson resign as chair of the Assembly's health committee, and the party's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also said she should consider the impact of her remarks.

Mrs Robinson has refused to apologise, claiming she is standing up for God and has every right to express her view.

Meanwhile, the police last night confirmed they have taken legal advice to establish if Mrs Robinson's comments amount to an incitement of hatred under anti-discrimination legislation in Northern Ireland.

Among those who have complained to police is John O'Doherty, a member of the South Belfast District Policing Partnership, who gave police a transcript of the comments the senior DUP party member made on the BBC's Stephen Nolan radio show.

Mr O'Doherty said: "People like Mrs Robinson need to learn that their comments have consequences. I believe her comments amount to an incitement to hatred and I have made a formal complaint to police."

Belfast Telegraph


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