Jim Wells: I have not seen DUP Chief Arlene Foster for nine months

Former health minister Jim Wells said he has not seen DUP leader Arlene Foster for nine months.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 10th May 2018, 1:30 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 1:13 am
Jim Wells
Jim Wells

The South Down Assembly member lost the whip at Stormont after comments he made about his treatment by the party.

He was removed from his ministerial post in 2015, saying that he was falsely accused of linking child abuse to same-sex marriage.

Mr Wells told the BBC the last time he saw Mrs Foster, she commented on him wearing a Northern Ireland football shirt.

He said it would not be unusual for a backbencher in his position, who was not a party spokesman or officer, to go long periods without seeing the leader.

The traditionalist and long-time supporter of Ian Paisley has hit out at the party's modernisation.

Mr Wells told the BBC's Nolan Show: "I think the party is modernising as they would see it and would eventually move towards a more middle-ground policy on those issues.

"There are folk like myself, many particularly in rural areas, who don't like that and I think we have to be reasonable and say there is a bit of an urban/rural split here."

He is adamantly opposed to liberalisation on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

He said: "When I joined in '75 we were a very different party than we are today and I would hold to the views, the traditional views, that I don't believe in same-sex marriage, I don't believe in abortion, I don't believe in euthanasia, I don't believe in all-night drinking.

"Not particularly because of moral points of view but because some of those have been disastrous when they have happened in England."