Sunday 22 September 2019

DUP councillor claims Ian Paisley will be 'turning in his grave' over gay candidate selection in extraordinary letter

Alison Bennington became the DUP's first openly gay candidate to be elected last Friday

Cllr John Finlay
Cllr John Finlay
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A DUP councillor has written to party officers to express his "deep concern" at the decision to select an openly gay candidate to run in the Northern Ireland local elections.

A DUP councillor has written to party officers to express his "deep concern" at the decision to select an openly gay candidate to run in the Northern Ireland local elections.

Alison Bennington became the DUP's first openly gay candidate to be elected when she won one of 14 DUP seats onto Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council last Friday.

In a letter from DUP councillor John Finlay to party officers, published by journalist Patricia Devlin, the Ballymoney representative said the party's founder Ian Paisley would be "turning in his grave" if he knew about the decision.

Alison Bennington. Photo: PA
Alison Bennington. Photo: PA

He said he was "very upset" at the way in which Ms Bennington was selected, as many within the party were "totally unaware" of the decision until it was announced at the launch of the DUP's local government manifesto.

Mr Finlay said: "The candidate in question, Ms Alison Bennington, is openly gay. She has, apparently, previously indicated that she is in favour of same-sex marriage through a post on her Facebook page.

"This sends out, at best, confusing signals to our support base which has consistently welcomed our strong stand on LGBT issues.

"Indeed, the DUP is different from all other political parties, apart from the much smaller TUV, in its adherence to family values.

"That has drawn support from across the community divide, but that support is clearly now being placed in jeopardy by the foolish decision in selecting Alison Bennington."

Mr Finlay goes on to ask party officers if Ms Bennington now agrees with party policy on same-sex marriage.

He added: "It seems clear to me that we will lose votes on May 2 as a result of the Bennington decision. Our traditional support base cannot be taken for granted. I can feel the palpable sense of anger on the doorsteps and in various messages I have been receiving.

"I am particularly disappointed that party officers who are committed Christians have either supported Ms Bennington's candidature or remained ominously silent. I think some soul-searching is now required."

Mr Finlay said that while he accepted society's morals are changing the DUP needs to "continue to swim against the secular and godless tide."

He added: "That has always been the DUP's strength, and we compromise on these matters at our peril. Dr Paisley must be turning in his grave."

The DUP has not commented on the matter.

Belfast Telegraph

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