Arlene Foster due to speak at LGBT event sponsored by her DUP party colleague
ARLENE Foster is scheduled to speak at tomorrow's LGBT event at Stormont, the organisers have confirmed.
The DUP leader announced last week that she would attend Pink News's summer reception in Parliament Buildings' Great Hall.
In recent weeks the former first minster has engaged in a flurry of outreach, including attending last Sunday's GAA Ulster final in Clones, Co Monaghan.
It emerged yesterday that the DUP leader's party colleague Paula Bradley is one of three MLAs sponsoring the event, alongside Alliance's Paula Bradshaw and Sinn Féin's Megan Fearon .
The DUP declined to comment on Mrs Foster's address to the reception or on Ms Bradley's endorsement of the Pink News event, which according to assembly rules requires sponsorship from at least three MLAs who "reflect cross designation support".
The assembly confirmed that Mrs Bradley agreed to sponsor the event on February 12 – months before Mrs Foster accepted the invitation to attend.
The Irish News reported last week that Mrs Foster told the media of her plans to go to the Pink News reception before her attendance was formally confirmed with organisers.
Mrs Foster was first invited by Pink News, which sent its invite on March 19. A further invite was sent later by corporate sponsor Citi.
The leaders of Stormont's other main parties – Michelle O'Neill, Colum Eastwood, Naomi Long and Robin Swann – will also attend tomorrow's reception.
TUV leader Jim Allister said Ms Bradley's sponsorship of the reception showed "the DUP's association with this event is greater than the leader attending as an invitee".
"The event is said to celebrate the contribution of the LGBT community to Northern Ireland – does that include celebrating the LGBT orchestrated campaign against Ashers Bakery and the assault on the definition of marriage?" the North Antrim MLA said.