Former First Minister of Northern Ireland Ian Paisley Snr maintained that when he was First Minister, he refused to approve the funding of LGBT groups.

Mr Paisley once founded a “Save Ulster from Sodomy” campaign in the 1970s, in an attempt to prevent the decriminalisation of gay sex in Northern Ireland.

Members of Mr Paisley’s Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian church had been questioning him over his role in the pro-gay funding package.

He claims he told officials that he would rather be imprisoned than sign the documents granting the money. He also claims that he forced the matter to be taken to Westminster.

OFMDFM (the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister) today confirmed that permission for the funding to go ahead was never sought from Mr Paisley in the first place,
the Belfast Telegraph reports.

The funding package, established in 2006 by then Secretary of State Peter Hain, will provide £230,000 for LGBT groups across Northern Ireland.

£50,000 of that fund had been released before May 2007 when Mr Paisley came to power as First Minister, and despite Mr Paisley’s claims, OFMDFM has announced that £100,000 of the fund was released during his term as First Minister.

This contradicts with Mr Paisley’s statements to the Belfast Telegraph earlier this year, when he said: “I never signed it. They had to change it. Our hands were absolutely clean. It had nothing to with us.”

He also told his Martyrs Memorial Free Presbyterian church congregation in January:

“Says I they are not getting one ha’ppeny from me.

“The civil servants said you need to sign there.

“Says I: no signature, take it away, don’t come back to me.

“They took the paper to Westminster and signed it at Westminster and they gave them the money they had promised, but I never gave them a penny, not a penny.

“They told me that if I didn’t do it I would be put in prison. Says I: roll on the prison, I’ve
been there before.”

The remaining £80,000 left in the fund will be issued by OFMDFM before the end of this financial year in April.

The current head of OFMDFM is Peter Robinson, whose wife, DUP MP Iris Robinson, caused controversy earlier this year over her comments about homosexuality.

Mrs Robinson claimed on BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show in June that homosexuality can be cured.

She cited the work of her adviser, Dr Miller, as an example.

She said: “I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals trying to turn away from what they are engaged in.

“I am happy to put any homosexual in touch with this gentleman and I have met people who have turned around to become heterosexual.”

Dr Miller has since resigned.