Northern Ireland news

DUP MLA Thomas Buchanan defends Ian Paisley over criticism of journalist Sam McBride

DUP MP Thomas Buchanan. Picture by Niall Carson/PA
Brendan Hughes

A DUP assembly member has defended party colleague Ian Paisley's controversial criticism of a journalist.

Mr Paisley has been widely condemned for launching a personal attack on the News Letter's political editor Sam McBride in response to an analysis article.

The article examined the likelihood of restoring devolution and suggested the DUP had prioritised opposing an Irish language act over resisting changes to Northern Ireland's abortion laws.

In a lengthy post online, Mr Paisley claimed it was typical of the media to "blame unionists for a decision that was not theirs".

He also made personalised comments about Mr McBride's background and several disparaging remarks about the journalist.

The North Antrim MP's remarks received cross-party condemnation and were criticised by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Mr McBride accused the MP of "untrue allegations" and said that while people can dismiss his analysis, anything he writes is his "honest professional – not personal – opinion".

The DUP was asked whether it supported Mr Paisley's comments, and whether it was considered appropriate conduct for a party representative.

A spokesman said the party disagreed with Mr McBride's analysis, but added: "Concentration should be on the analysis rather than the author."

However, DUP West Tyrone MLA Thomas Buchanan branded it "lousy journalism" and said he "fully agreed" with Mr Paisley's objections.

"Right throughout Ian Paisley jnr raised other issues, he has rebutted them, and I fully agree with what he has said and about the type of journalism that this portrays," he told the Tyrone Constitution.

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