Northern Ireland news

Doug Beattie to discuss future as UUP leader with party's MLAs

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beatti conceded his posts were "horrendous and horrific"e. Picture by Mal McCann

UUP leader Doug Beattie has said he will ask colleagues whether he should resign amid a controversy over historical tweets.

Mr Beattie has faced accusations of misogyny and racism over the content of tweets posted before he entered political life.

The Upper Bann MLA conceded the posts were "horrendous and horrific".

He told BBC Radio Ulster: "I will speak to my MLA group today and I will speak to my party officers. If either group feels I should step down, then I will.

Ian Knox cartoon 25/1/21 

"Likewise, if they think I should refer myself to the party executive or the wider council on a vote of no confidence then I shall do that as well."

Mr Beattie denied being racist or misogynistic.

The former soldier suggested the "dark and black humour" he used may have been a "coping" mechanism and reflective of him being "desensitised" by battlefield experiences.

"My mental health has been affected by what I have seen and what I have done," he said.

Mr Beattie insisted he is not using that potential explanation as an "excuse" for his tweets.

Yesterday, DUP minister Edwin Poots described a tweet in which Mr Beattie made a joke referencing the former DUP leader's wife as "incredibly hurtful".

The agriculture minister said his wife Glynis was left disgusted by the joke, which was posted on Saturday evening by Mr Beattie before being removed on Sunday.

Mr Beattie, who 24 hours earlier had been enjoying favourable opinion poll ratings, gave a statement at the start of yesterday's assembly business.

"We must all be mindful of our language and I've said so on the floor of this chamber on many occasions we must guard against language that is both hurtful and harmful," he said.

He said the post was "absolutely wrong and fundamentally wrong".

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