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Most DUP members oppose relatives marrying Catholics says survey

DUP leader Peter Robinson at the party conference in 2010
Brendan Hughes

ALASDAIR McDonnell accusing the DUP of sectarianism drew criticism yesterday, but it's not the first time concerns have been raised over the party's relationship with Catholics.

It was only a year ago that a survey of DUP members showed three-quarters would oppose a relative marrying a Catholic.

More members of the north's largest political party were opposed to mixed marriages than against homosexuality.

The academic research found that 54 per cent of the party would "mind a lot" if a relative was to marry someone of a different religion, while a further fifth would "mind a little".

Meanwhile, 66 per cent said they 'strongly agree' or 'agree' that homosexuality is wrong.

The Northern Ireland Mixed Marriages Association at the time said the results reflected "institutionalised sectarianism".

The study by Prof Jonathan Tonge of the University of Liverpool looked at DUP members' stance on a range of issues.

Reacting to the survey in June last year, retired Free Presbyterian minister Rev David McIlveen said he was "not surpised" by the strongly-held views on mixed marriage.

"Preserving religious identity in marriage is deep-rooted, whether you are coming from a Catholic, Protestant, Islamic of Jewish perspective," he said.

"I understand exactly where the DUP are coming from."

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