Jim Wells: I’m walking on air after lifting lid on DUP wrangle

Jim Wells said he slept like a log on Monday night
Jim Wells said he slept like a log on Monday night

Veteran DUP MLA Jim Wells said he has been “walking on air” since lifting the lid on a wrangle with the party leadership which has plagued him for three years.

Mr Wells gave a scathing account of the lack of support he received from the DUP leadership after he was falsely accused of linking child abuse to gay marriage in April 2015.

Since giving a series of media interviews on Monday Mr Wells said he has received tremendous support from rank and file DUP members, but has not yet been contacted by party officials.

He commented: “I have had a massive response from the party generally – MPs, MLAs, councillors and party supporters from every corner of the country – saying they are totally behind me. That has been very reassuring.

“I’m actually quite shocked. I thought there would have been a lot of people criticising me. That hasn’t happened, but no doubt it will.

“I’m waiting for the inevitable (disciplinary action) but it hasn’t happened. I think it will be a while yet before they get in touch, but there will be a meeting I’m sure. And I will go into that meeting with a clear conscience.”

Of the initial interview with the Belfast Telegraph he said: “I’m happy I took the opportunity. I have been walking on air. I slept like a log on Monday night because I did the right thing.

“I’m prepared to face the consequences. The truth had to come out.”

In light of Mr Wells’ comments on Monday the DUP issued the following statement: “The party is very sorry that Jim Wells has chosen to make the comments that he has across a series of interviews.

“The party, at all levels, has tried to work with Jim given the scale of the challenges he has faced in recent times, including nominating him to paid positions of responsibility in the Assembly.

“What has been said is inaccurate. We do not intend to debate these matters in public but they will be dealt with internally as should be the case.

“We wish Jim well in all the circumstances and difficulties that he faces.”

Mr Wells said: “I tried for three years to deal with these issues internally. I simply was getting absolutely nowhere.”

Asked if his treatment by the DUP leadership would ever make him consider leaving the party, he said: “I’m not leaving the party.

“I’m 110% behind the party when it comes to fundamental issues.”