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Northern Ireland news

PUP distances itself from member's Islam tweets

The PUP has distanced itself from tweets posted after the Manchester attack by a party activist. Picture by AP Photo/Rui Vieira
Paul Ainsworth

THE PUP has distanced itself from comments by a party activist who described Islam as “rotten to the core”.

Tom Johnston, a Progressive Unionist Party representative from west Belfast, posted a series of tweets in the wake of Monday's terrorist attack including: “F*ck Islam time to terrorise the terrorists. Cowardly scum. Child killers.”

He also hit back at criticism by writing: “If you don't like what I tweet tough. Feel free to unfollow. Islam is rotten to the core. I have no time for any religion.”

Mr Johnston, whose Twitter profile states that his views are personal, concluded his spat by stating: “If you think Islam is a religion of peace good bye”.

When contacted by The Irish News, a PUP spokesman said Mr Johnston's views did not represent those of the party.

“That is not PUP policy,” he said.

“Whatever his comments were, it was personal.”

The spokesman also compared the tweets to Fermanagh GAA manager Pete McGrath's recent general election endorsement of Sinn Féin candidate Chris Hazzard in the South Down constituency.

While some GAA figures defended Mr McGrath's right to express a personal opinion, Irish News columnist and former club chairman Tom Kelly said it served “no service to the GAA and its tradition of staying above party politics”.

In a tweet posted after The Irish News contacted the PUP, Mr Johnston wrote: “Anything I tweet here is my own personal opinion, and not that of the PUP. It's a democracy we live in.”

Challenged by another Twitter user whether he would help Muslims in his role as a housing officer, he said: "I'd help a Muslim to get housed mate. It's IS I was tweeting about. Sorry for misunderstanding."

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