Church minister apologises for 'explosives' remark at election event

Canon Mark Watson has apologised for any offence his remarks caused

A church minister who said he was "glad hydrogen peroxide is dyeing hair blonde and not going into creamery cans to make explosives" has apologised.

The Church of Ireland said Canon Mark Watson was sorry "for any offence his remarks may have caused".

The cleric made the comments on Saturday at a Westminster election event in Co Fermanagh in support of Ulster Unionist candidate Tom Elliott, which was attended by DUP leader Arlene Foster.

It came after Mrs Foster was criticised last week for describing Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O'Neill as "blonde" during a word association game in a newspaper interview.

Canon Watson, the Church of Ireland rector of Trory and Killadeas, reportedly told the gathering at an Orange hall in Enniskillen: "Our friend the first minister mentioned the blondes.

"I am glad they are blondes because it means the hydrogen peroxide that's dyeing the hair isn't going into creamery cans to make explosives."

He added: "I hope there are no press about or I've lost my job."

Asked by The Irish News on Sunday about his remarks, Canon Watson said it had been a "private function and a private joke".

But in a statement last night, a Church of Ireland spokesman said: "Canon Watson apologises for any offence his remarks may have caused."

The comments had been criticised by Sinn Féin MLA Jemma Dolan, who described them as "extraordinary and outrageous".

Ms Dolan called on both Mrs Foster and Mr Elliott, who was not present at the event at the time, to distance themselves from the "sexist, disrespectful and nasty commentary".

Despite repeated calls to both the DUP and UUP over the past two days, neither party or politician have responded.

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