Northern Ireland news

Timeline on Edwin Poots Covid-19 controversy

DUP minister Edwin Poots told The Irish News his controversial remarks about coronavirus are not sectarian because "most Sinn Féin leaders don't attend the Catholic Church on a regular basis"

:: Friday October 16:

Hours before the Executive's new Covid-19 restrictions come into force, DUP minister Edwin Poots says he has "grave reservations".

He tells BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme that lockdown is "unsustainable" and his party was in a "minority" opposing it.

This is rejected by other parties who said the regulations were agreed by the whole executive and no-one voted against.

Mr Poots later also tells UTV that coronavirus cases are more prevalent in "nationalist areas".

"I will abide by the regulations, as have most people in my community," he says.

"What I'm saying is, those people who didn't abide by them, including the Sinn Féin leadership – because a lot of this started shortly after the Bobby Storey funeral.

"A lot of the problems started after that event, and people in that community saw the breaking of the rules.

"That's why there is a difference between nationalist areas and unionist areas – and the difference is around six to one."

Other Stormont parties strongly criticise Mr Poots's remarks, with Sinn Féin Mid Ulster MLA Emma Sheerin accusing Mr Poots of "trying to politicise and sectarianise" the pandemic.

:: Tuesday October 20:

Mr Poots tells The Irish News his controversial remarks about coronavirus are not sectarian because "most Sinn Féin leaders don't attend the Catholic Church on a regular basis".

The Lagan Valley MLA claims the "poor leadership" from Sinn Féin leaders at veteran republican Bobby Storey's funeral "was replicated in some GAA grounds over the summer".

He says it was "undeniable that the spread has been much greater in the areas where this had happened".

:: Wednesday October 21:

Mr Poots issues a fresh statement following continued criticism of his controversial remarks.

He claims his words have been twisted, and he would never intentionally cause offence to his Catholic friends and neighbours.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news