PUP woman resigns after criticism of her McGuinness comments
The Progressive Unionist Party's press officer Sophie Long has resigned after an online campaign against her following the death of former Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.
The Queens University PHD candidate tendered her resignation yesterday, saying she wished the party well and that she continued to hold several party members "in the highest of regard".
"My politics remain progressive; I aspire to a society of equals, free from violence, which includes and respects women, refugees, workers, LGBT citizens, and both Britishness and Irishness", Ms Long said.
"I hope that the PUP and others can also promote these values," she added.
It is believed that while PUP leader Billy Hutchinson supported Ms Long, others had been deeply critical of her for making sympathetic comments about Mr McGuinness' death.
On the day of Mr McGuinness's death Ms Long tweeted "Condolences to Martin McGuinness' family, friends and comrades"
Condolences to Martin McGuinness' family, friends and comrades.— Sophie Long (@SophieLong01) March 21, 2017
It caused a backlash from loyalists and members of the party who accused the outspoken feminist of being a 'Lundy,' demanding she leave the party and accusing her of being a 'Marxist'.
This is despite members of the PUP working closely with former IRA members in funded community projects and the attendance of senior Sinn Féin members, including Gerry Adams, at the funeral of one of the party's founding members David Ervine in 2007.
One Twitter user appeared to threaten the Ballybeen-born loyalist posting, "RIP Sophie long (sic) the traitor".
A number of party branches posted statements distancing themselves from Ms Long's comments, including the South Belfast PUP which stated Mr McGuinness' was "in no way any sort of 'comrade' to us and we wish to make it clear we do not in anyway agree with the recent individual comments made by Sophie Long which we expressly disassociate ourselves from".