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DUP to consider Jim Wells’ comments about party’s gay councillor

UK News | Published:

Alison Bennington was elected to the Antrim and Newtownabbey Council on Friday.

Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, said her party will consider comments made by former DUP health minister Jim Wells about the party’s first openly-gay candidate.

Mrs Foster said the DUP will look at “bad behaviour” from party members after the local elections are concluded.

Alison Bennington was elected to the Antrim and Newtownabbey Council on Friday.

Although she received warm congratulations from many of her party colleagues, Mr Wells said his former leader, the Rev Ian Paisley, would be “aghast”.

The DUP’s founder once led a campaign to, in his words, Save Ulster from Sodomy and prevent the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Mr Wells, who makes his opposition to same-sex marriage widely known, claimed that DUP voters feel “very concerned” about the decision to run Ms Bennington as a candidate.

Mrs Foster said he should not have made those comments to the media.

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Speaking in Omagh she said: “(Jim) should have been coming through the normal routes, through the party, if he had concerns about those issues.

“We will look at all of those issues after the election. We will be looking at vote management schemes, we will be looking at where we did very well and we will be looking at bad behaviour as well.”

Asked whether Mr Wells would remain a party member, she said: “I’m not going to pre-judge any process if it were to happen, I think it’s wrong to do that.

“You have to allow due process to take its course, so we will have to wait and see what happens.”

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She added that she was “delighted” to see Ms Bennington’s success.

“Her and Phillip Brett had a very strong performance,” Mrs Foster added.

“We were trying to get the third seat in that area but didn’t quite make it but it’s there for looking at again the next time round. They performed very strongly.”

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