TUV leader Jim Allister ‘sorry for added hurt’ after David Tweed condolences controversy

TUV leader Jim Allister has issued an apology to the daughters of deceased former Irish rugby international David Tweed, who had been accused of sexual abuse, following “disgust” over a message of condolence.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 3:52 pm
PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/11/2012 David Tweed, a former rugby international, leaves Antrim Court

David Tweed, who served as a TUV councillor in Ballymena, was convicted of child sex abuse in 2012 and served time in prison before the conviction was quashed in 2016. He did not face a retrial.

Mr Tweed died following a a motorcycle crash at Dunseverick in County Antrim last month.

Condolences were expressed by several politicians following his death, including Mr Allister, prompting criticism from Mr Tweed’s stepdaughter Amanda Brown.

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In a statement to Irish broadcaster RTE, DUP figures Mervyn Storey and Ian Paisley said they had expressed condolences to “those who mourned David Tweed’s death” and stressed that it was “never our intention to add to any hurt suffered, nor would we ever be dismissive of any victim of abuse.”

Mr Allister, meanwhile, defended his message of condolence in an interview with BBC News NI.

He said: “My purpose in this is not to be vexatious or to visit discomfort or hurt on anyone but I am entitled to say that if someone passes that I am entitled to express condolences.

“What was disrespectful about my statement?

“Wasn’t he a larger-than-life character? He was physically large, he was a man of considerable presence.

“I don’t see that as any sort of insult to anyone.”

He added: “I’m not going to be bullied into saying the court was wrong.”

Following that interview, Ms Brown published a letter addressed to Mr Allister on social media website Twitter and said she was “even more disgusted”.

Yesterday, Mr Allister moved to apologise.

“Mr Tweed’s daughters are clearly hurting. I accept and am sorry that some of my comments, whether as reported or because they could have been better chosen, have added in any way to such hurt,” he said in a statement. “I have always and continue to urge anyone with allegations of criminality to go to the police in a timely manner, even when it is very difficult because of familial relationship.”

He added: “In light of misconstruction of my motives and intentions I unequivocally repeat that I and my party never have and never will condone paedophilia in any shape or form, irrespective of where it arises.”