Northern Ireland news

Mike Nesbitt did right thing in quitting committee role, says Arlene Foster

 Mike Nesbitt
David Young, PA

Former Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt did the right thing in resigning a Stormont committee post for breaching lockdown rules, the First Minster has said.

Arlene Foster said it was important that everybody in society abided by the restrictions.

Also commenting on Mr Nesbitt’s decision to step down as vice chairman of the Executive Office scrutiny committee, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said no one was exempt from the rules.

Mr Nesbitt quit his committee position after admitting a lockdown infringement.

It came as the Sunday World newspaper reported the Strangford MLA had visited a friend on the north coast in Northern Ireland.

Regulations advise against unnecessary journeys.

Asked about the incident at the daily Covid-19 briefing at Stormont, Mrs Foster said: “I think it is important to say that everybody has to stick by the regulations that were made in the Assembly, and of course Mike has recognised that he didn’t stick by those regulations and therefore he has stepped aside from that role, and I think that’s the right thing to do.”

Ms O’Neill added: “I think he’s acknowledged that what he did wasn’t appropriate and he’s obviously decided to stand aside from the vice chair of the committee for that reason.

“We’re in difficult times but none of us are exempt from these regulations and that’s just the situation that we’re now in.”

Mr Nesbitt said: “This has been a stressful and difficult period for me and unfortunately I have made some very poor decisions.

“I am remorseful and apologise. I shall not return during lockdown.”

UUP leader Steve Aiken said Mr Nesbitt had made a “huge mistake”.

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