Northern Ireland news

Ian Paisley accuses BBC of mocking Edwin Poots' faith

DUP MP Ian Paisley
Mairead Holland

THE BBC has been accused of “taking the mickey” out of the newly elected leader of the DUP over his religious beliefs.

Ian Paisley, the party's MP for North Antrim, said the broadcaster had “lambasted” Edwin Poots because he is "a man of faith".

He made the claims during the BBC's Newsnight programme on Friday.

However, a spokesperson for the BBC denied this was the case.

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During the introduction to the programme, Mr Poots was described as "a creationist from the party's Free Presbyterian roots, who once banned donations of blood from gay men".

"I would say absolute cobblers to your programme so far," Mr Paisley told presenter Faisal Islam.“I’m reminded of the Frank Skinner line, you can be anything in Britain today except a Christian.”

“The BBC want to lambast the man because he happens to be a man of faith and they want to take the mickey out of his religion, you wouldn’t do that if he was a Muslim...

"You should be ashamed of yourselves and the BBC should be ashamed of yourselves for starting from that position.

“He has never been in a position where he would try to force his faith down your throat or anyone else’s throat, he would not allow those things to get in the way of how he engages in policy and policy-making.”

Mr Paisley said that as DUP leader Mr Poots' interest is in “making Northern Ireland work”.

“He has an excellent track record of working with Sinn Fein, of working with John Finucane's colleagues and other people across the board to try to make this place a better place," he added.

"He's entitled to be the leader and he's entitled to have his faith."

A spokesperson from the BBC said: “At no point did anyone on the programme mock religious beliefs.”

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