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DUP politician Jim Wells will receive no punishment for criticism of party’s first gay councillor

Patrick Kelleher October 28, 2019
Jim Wells DUP

Former DUP health minister Jim Wells.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) politician Jim Wells was not sanctioned over comments he made about the party’s first gay councillor – despite Arlene Foster’s claims that he could be.

Last May, Wells – who is Northern Ireland’s former health minister – made headlines when he hit out at his own party over the candidacy of lesbian Alison Bennington.

DUP leader Arlene Foster later said the party would be looking at “bad behaviour” following his comments.

Despite this, Wells was among the politicians in attendance at the DUP annual conference on Saturday, 26 October.

No action was taken against DUP’s Jim Wells over comments about lesbian candidate.

He told The Irish News at the event that he had been invited to attend by the DUP and said no action had been taken over his comments about Bennington.

“There have been many occasions when party officials have said I should be hung at dawn, but it never happened – and I’m pleased at that,” he said.

Bizarrely, Wells revealed that he was not invited to the annual conference in 2018 – but received an invitation this year.

Jim Wells (Charles McQuillan/Getty)

Wells formerly had the DUP whip withdrawn after he made public criticisms about the party’s leadership.

Alison Bennington was elected as a councillor for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council in Northern Ireland in May of this year, making her the anti-LGBT+ party’s first elected representative.

There have been many occasions when party officials have said I should be hung at dawn, but it never happened – and I’m pleased at that.

Bennington said she was “delighted” to have been selected for the local election.

“I am putting myself before the electorate based on what I can deliver for them as a councillor working alongside a strong team of colleagues, not based on my sexual orientation,” she told The Irish News on April 18.

“I regard my private and family life as a matter for myself in the same way as everyone else.”

Lesbian’s candidacy marks ‘watershed change in DUP party policy,’ Jim Wells claimed.

Ahead of Bennington’s election, Wells spoke to media and said that her candidacy marked a “watershed change in DUP party policy” and criticised the leadership for not consulting members before allowing her to stand.

Foster told the Belfast Telegraph that Wells could face action over his comments.

“He 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.”

The DUP is one of the major political parties in Northern Ireland. The party is staunchly anti-marriage equality.

PinkNews has contacted the DUP for comment.

More: alison bennington, DUP, jim wells, Northern Ireland

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