Ian Paisley and Mervyn Storey row back from their praise of David Tweed
SENIOR DUP figures Ian Paisley and Mervyn Storey have rowed back from their praise of David Tweed, saying they they never intended "to add to any hurt suffered" by his family.
The North Antrim MP and former Stormont finance minister were among the politicians criticised by the former Irish rugby international's stepdaughter after they paid tribute to Tweed following his death last month.
Amanda Brown, who was sexually abused by Tweed from the age of eight, said the politicians "should have known better".
She said the tributes were "massively disrespectful".
Since the former Orangeman was killed in a road accident on October 28, his five daughters have gone public about the sexual and physical abuse meted out by their late father.
At the weekend, Tweed's sister Hazel McAllister voiced support for her nieces.
The former Ireland second row served four years in prison for child sex abuse but his conviction was later quashed, due to the way the jury was directed in his initial trial.
Mr Paisley and Mr Storey's remarks qualifying what they said were made in a joint statement posted on the DUP website.
TUV leader Jim Allister also paid tribute to Tweed following his death, while the Orange Order has faced criticism after its members wore collarettes while carrying the 61-year-old’s coffin during his funeral service at Hebron Free Presbyterian Church in Ballymoney.
Mr Allister has stood by his comments, while Orange Order grand secretary Meryvn Gibson has declined to comment on the matter.
The joint statement from Mr Paisley and Mr Storey came after the latter had conceded that Tweed's daughters suffered "horrific abuse".
Mr Storey told the Ballymoney Chronicle that he had expressed his condolences to "those who mourned Davy Tweed’s death" but did not want his statement to "take way from the subsequent powerful and distressing words of his daughters".
His statement issued with Mr Paisley was almost identical.
It said Tweed's daughters had "bravely told of the horrific abuse they suffered".
"It was never our intention to add to any hurt suffered nor would we ever be dismissive of any victim of abuse," they said.
"No one could be but devastated by these accounts and we have always sought to support and enable abuse victims to come forward by supporting Women’s Aid and other such fantastic organisations."
Mr Allister told the BBC earlier this week he stood by his statement about Tweed, asking "What was disrespectful about [it]?
"Wasn't he a larger than life character? He was physically large, he was a man of considerable presence," he said.