DUP's Ian Paisley makes 'unreserved' apology to News Letter journalist Sam McBride
THE DUP's Ian Paisley has apologised "unreservedly" to a journalist after personally attacking him on social media.
The North Antrim MP posted the apology on Facebook, almost a week after describing News Letter political editor Sam McBride as a "despicable and low character" in response to an analysis article.
The article had examined the likelihood of restoring devolution and suggesting the DUP had prioritised opposing an Irish language act over resisting changes to Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.
Mr Paisley's response was widely condemned, including by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
In the apology issued late on Friday, Mr Paisley said he had disagreed completely with Mr McBride's analysis but had "expressed himself badly" and he "should not have accused either Mr McBride or the News Letter of lying and failing to give an honest, professional, analysis of politics".
He added: “In addition, I accept that I should not have accused them of having a long term agenda against the DUP, of being part of a campaign to attack the Christian ethos of the DUP, or of hating both the Christian testimony and those who defend the unborn.
"Finally, I accept that it was wrong of me to describe Mr McBride as a ‘despicable and low character’, and to say that those who know him should be thoroughly ashamed of him.
“Having reflected on my comments, I am now happy to apologise unreservedly to Mr McBride and the News Letter for making these incorrect, intemperate statements.”
In response, Mr McBride said: “We all make mistakes - I’ve certainly made plenty. I accept Mr Paisley’s withdrawal of these allegations, thank him for doing so and consider the matter closed.
"I also want to thank my colleagues at the News Letter, other journalists, readers, politicians from all parties and so many others for their messages of support, which have been humbling and for which I am grateful.”
In the aftermath of the original Facebook post, a DUP spokesman said the party disagreed with Mr McBride's analysis but "concentration should be on the analysis rather than the author".
However, DUP West Tyrone MLA Thomas Buchanan branded it "lousy journalism" and told the Tyrone Constitution he "fully agreed" with Mr Paisley's objections.
In a Facebook post, Ballymena DUP councillor John Carson also made similar claims and suggested a boycott of the News Letter.
The Irish News asked the DUP if it was taking any action against Mr Paisley or other members who had made remarks concerning Mr McBride, and whether Mr Paisley had been told to apologise.
It repeated the statement it had issued last week, adding that: "Ian has rightly apologised and the News Letter has said that is the end of the matter."