Jude Collins suffers backlash over Naomi Long weight comments

Blogger Jude Collins has faced an extreme backlash after he published comments focusing on the weight of Alliance Party leader Naomi Long.

Monday, 4th March 2019, 10:53 am
Updated Monday, 4th March 2019, 4:45 pm
Blogger Jude Collins has caused widespread anger with his comments about Naomi Long, but later published a lengthy apology. Photo: Inpresspics.com.
Blogger Jude Collins has caused widespread anger with his comments about Naomi Long, but later published a lengthy apology. Photo: Inpresspics.com.

“Naomi’s weight problem – I’m assuming it’s a medical condition – is what hits you between the eyes when she comes on TV,” he said.

“And I have no doubt that it’s a worrying thing for her, and not just in terms of public image. But such is the Alliance leader’s fluency of speech, it’s not too hard to focus on what’s being said, not how she looks,” he added.

But Mrs Long responded on Facebook that the real problem was with Mr Collins.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Alliance Party Leader Naomi Long speaking to the News Leader last week ahead of her party conference at the weekend. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

“This may be the one and only time I ever share anything written by Jude Collins, and it isn’t to praise it,” she said.

“That my ‘weight problem’ is the first thing to hit him between the eyes when I’m on TV is evidence not of my weight, but his problem.

“I wasn’t aware Jude was either invested enough in my health to care or medically qualified enough to comment: however, I am absolutely certain he doesn’t know me or what concerns me at all, and has no right to speculate.

“That a grown man and seasoned ‘journalist’ would think it appropriate or necessary to make personal comments on my appearance before admitting that there was substance to the content of my message is a rather sad reflection on him, both as a human being and a commentator.

“That he did so about me, a woman in public life, but doesn’t do so about male colleagues and opponents is evidence of his misogyny as well as his lack of manners.

“This is why so many women of all shapes and sizes, avoid public life.

“Just remember, it’s not those of us with big bodies but those with small minds which are the most destructive force.”

The offending comments were later removed from Mr Collin’s blog.

His comments prompted 66 scathing responses on Twitter with Mrs Long enjoyed almost 400 supportive comments by comparison.

On Monday, Mr Collins published a fresh post in which he apologised to Mrs Long.

“Yesterday, I posted a blog about the accuracy of points on Brexit made on TV by Naomi Long yesterday morning,” he said. “A multitude of people have hurried to tell me how obnoxious my (passing) comments on the Alliance Party leader were.

“I’ve gone back and looked at what I said and I can see that what I wrote could well have been hurtful to Naomi. Accordingly, I’ve removed that paragraph from the blog and have no hesitation in apologizing to the Alliance party leader for my crassness and any hurt this may have caused her. I hope she will accept that apology.”

He continued that the general point he was trying to make was that “the audio-visual media and television in particular pay a lot of attention to image”.

He went on to discuss this with a lengthy discussion about a Presidential debate between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon debate in 1960.

“I’d emphasise that the above isn’t an attempt to slide away from my regret over my paragraph on Naomi,” he added. “That was bad judgement and bad taste, and I shouldn’t have written it. Mea culpa.”

Marking the 30th anniversary of the 1998 Omagh Bombing last year, Mr Collins drew scathing criticism when he claimed that the 29 people killed were not murdered.

He claimed that as the Real IRA gang “almost certainly did not intend” to kill innocent civilians, then the deaths should not be classed as murder.

Also last year, he caused anger with comments about Patsy Gillespie, whom the IRA murdered in Londonderry in 1990. Mr Gillespie was strapped into a van with a 1000lb bomb and forced to drive it to an army checkpoint where it was detonated. Mr Collins tweeted that he “chose to do work for the ‘security’ forces, even after the IRA had warned that made them targets”.

In 2016 he also caused controversy when he tried to draw parallels between the Boys Brigade and a dissident republican parade in Lurgan, which featured masks and full paramilitary uniforms.

Mr Collins says on his web site that he wants it to be a place where “civilized discussion takes place, not a place for insult, abuse and/or defamatory statements”. Mr Collins was invited to comment.