Northern Ireland

DUP's Edwin Poots labels Joe Brolly 'desperate' in Twitter spat over pundit's joke post on St Patrick

GAA pundit Joe Brolly was involved in a Twitter spat with DUP MLA Edwin Poots
GAA pundit Joe Brolly was involved in a Twitter spat with DUP MLA Edwin Poots GAA pundit Joe Brolly was involved in a Twitter spat with DUP MLA Edwin Poots

FORMER DUP leader Edwin Poots has hit out at Joe Brolly after the GAA pundit joked in a social media post that Mr Poots had called for St Patrick to be "abolished".

Mr Brolly tweeted jokes about Mr Poots and another DUP MLA at the weekend, in the wake of a DUP councillor's comments relating to Irish language signage at the Olympia leisure centre in south Belfast.

Referring to a planned bilingual sign at the leisure centre at Boucher Road, DUP councillor Tracey Kelly told the News Letter "the mention of anything Irish triggers bad memories in unionist communities", adding that bilingual signage was "like a hand grenade for good relations".

Her comments followed South Belfast DUP MLA Mr Poots claiming the planned sign at the leisure centre, which is located close to the loyalist Village area, was "an imposition on a community which doesn't want the Irish language".

In a joke tweet, Joe Brolly wrote that Mr Poots had "called for St Patrick to be abolished", and wrote in the satirical post: “For too long, this so called saint has been used as a sectarian stick to beat the Protestant community. He may have driven the snakes out of Ireland, but what did he ever do for Ulster?”

Mr Brolly had earlier joked that DUP MLA Diane Forsyth had "called for the colour green to be banned".

The mock statement by the Dungiven-born pundit and barrister followed Ms Forsyth's criticism that Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said money would be found to fund the new GAA stadium at Casement Park in west Belfast.

Ms Forsyth had asked in a statement: "Does the NIO (Northern Ireland Office) believe a controversial GAA stadium is more important than new schools, hospitals or childcare support?"

Responding to the GAA pundit's joke post referring to him and St Patrick, Mr Poots tweeted: "Desperate behaviour from Jo (sic) Brolly tweeting something patently untrue. For the record Saint Patrick was British, his teaching aligns closely to my views, so what's not to like."

It is believed St Patrick was born in Roman-occupied Britain in the fifth century AD.

Replying to another Twitter user who claimed the saint was "Roman Catholic", Mr Poots, who served as DUP leader for just over a month in 2022, responded: "Any evidence of that."

In 2016, then-DUP minister Maurice Morrow and ex-DUP councilor Ruth Patterson both claimed St Patrick was "Protestant", despite Ireland's patron saint living around 1,000 years before the Protestant reformation.