SDLP Belfast City Councillor Séamas de Faoite has welcomed apologies from the DUP leadership over historic comments made in relation to the LGBT+ community.
Councillor de Faoite said that while it was welcome the DUP were beginning to catch up with the rest of society, Jeffrey Donaldson and Paula Bradley alone cannot atone for decades of well documented homophobia from their party.
He called on the new DUP Leader to take action against more recent examples from South Down MLA Jim Wells, County Antrim Councillor John Carson and DUP Education Authority nominee Nelson McCausland, and for the litany of DUP politicians who have made historic offensive comments, including senior party figures, Sammy Wilson, Ian Paisley and Edwin Poots, to follow the party leadership and formally apologise.
Councillor de Faoite said:
“Jeffrey Donaldson and Paula Bradley’s comments are long overdue. While they are to welcomed, they will provide little comfort to our rainbow community who have faced years of discrimination and abuse, fueled by comments from the likes of Sammy Wilson and Ian Paisley.
“I would challenge Mr Donaldson to demonstrate he is serious about his apology and the remorse of his party by taking meaningful action against those responsible for more recent examples of homophobia. Similar expressions of meaningful regret and remorse from Mr Wilson and Mr Paisley, following their party leadership and publicly apologising for their past vile and repulsive statements, should also be expected as a minimum. I would also call on Mr Donaldson to guarantee that any DUP representative making similar statements in future will be appropriately disciplined by the party.
“Equality is the only way forward and I hope this move will be the beginning of the DUP joining the rest of these islands by taking a more progressive and pluralist approach on issues concerning the LGBT+ community. They have long been out of step with the rest of society in the North.”