An emotional DUP MLA Edwin Poots opens up on UUP leader Doug Beattie’s ‘joke’ about a brothel and his wife

DUP MLA Edwin Poots has said a joke about his wife and a brothel from UUP leader Doug Beattie “demeans women in general” and also “one woman in particular...my wife and my children’s mother”.

By Philip Bradfield
Monday, 24th January 2022, 11:43 am
Updated Monday, 24th January 2022, 3:34 pm

The DUP man was speaking live on air, his voice breaking with emotion, to a joke made by Doug Beattie on Saturday night via Twitter referencing Mr Poots, his wife, and a brothel.

Mr Beattie said the joke was not his and he was sharing something that had been sent to him. He has now deleted the post and posted an apology.

Speaking on the Nolan Show this morning, Mr Beattie offered an extended apology and explanation for what had happened.

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Edwin Poots and Doug Beattie have both spoken at length about the UUP's leader joke about Mr Poot's wife.

“This was poor judgment on my behalf. It was wrong and I’m sorry,” he said. “At times we get things wrong and it is important to stand up and say we got it wrong and apologise and I have apologised.

“Now whether people accept that apology, I cannot make them. Whether anybody thinks I am sincere, I can’t make them. But what I can say to everybody is that  I am sorry, in regards to it.

“I posted it as a joke but sometimes we all have to mind our language, we have to be on guard of our language. I let my guard down and I have let people down and for that I am genuinely - genuinely - sorry that I did that.”

He said he had written to Edwin on Sunday to apologise.

Stephen Nolan said the joke featured a fictional scenario making reference to Edwin’s wife.

Asked if he had apologised to Edwin’s wife, Mr Beattie said: “Well I wrote to Edwin first. What I don’t want to do is to force myself onto somebody but if Edwin thinks it is appropriate that I apologise in person then I certainly will.”

Mr Beattie said that “the strange thing is... that having read the thing once more by myself, I thought I was... having a go at my own colourful past, but rereading it, it is absolutely clear I got it absolutely wrong and I withdrew it as quickly as I could. I apologised as best I can. All I can do is say I made a mistake and I am sorry.”

He is not aware that Edwin has replied as yet.

Speaking shortly afterwards on air, Mr Poots said he accepted the apology - but said it took 24 hours to come through.

His voice breaking with emotion repeatedly, he said: “I accept his apology. Now it did appear on Twitter 24 hours after the incident so it took a while for it to feed through to Doug that he had actually done something wrong. And I know the comment was deleted after a lot of negative comments appearing on the feed. But I have to say the judgment in the first instance of posting it was incredibly poor.

”I just don’t know what he was thinking about... I am a big boy, I can take a lot of abuse in politics and that is fine but we really shouldn’t be drawing other members of people’s families into anything, and they have their right to their private life and unfortunately that has been infringed when it comes to my family in this instance.”

Asked what impact it had on his wife, he said: “Well she is disgusted by it but it has actually had a greater impact on the rest of us, on her children and myself. Saturday night was the first time our family has been together as a family for four years because I have two children who are doing voluntary work abroad and it coincided that they happened to be home.”And then we got news of that [tweet] late on Saturday night and, you know, to have somebody’ wife described as a prostitute - or your mother described as a prostitute - it is not something that people really find acceptable.

“It is hurtful. My wife was a working class girl - not a working girl - she worked her way up in life and provided care for many thousands of people over the years in a professional manner as a nurse. And to have her demeaned like that is something that I find incredibly hurtful.”

Asked if he accepted that Doug had not suggested the joke was true, he replied: “Absolutely but... this is the type of joke that you would have heard people telling on TV late on a Friday or Saturday night in the 1970s and 80s.

He said it was a fictional scenario, but “unfortunately whoever constructed it took away the fictional scenario and actually identified it onto one person and therein lies the problem with Doug’s judgment in particular.

“There may be a global anger that it demeans women in general - and it does - but it demeans one woman in particular. And that one woman happens to be my wife and my children’s mother.”

Asked how she felt about the joke, he replied: “She is just annoyed about it, that is just how it is. She doesn’t want to be involved in public life in any way, she doesn’t want public attention in any way.

“She happened to be married to a politician. I wasn’t a politician when she married me but she has given me her full support.”

My wife has been a very hard working woman all of her life in providing care for other people [and] very hard working in rearing our family, along with me, and supporting me in everything that I have done.”

He said she was “honourable, kind, decent” and added: “I married a gem”.

Asked if he accepted Doug’s apology, he said: “I accept the apology. I accept that people do things that are stupid from time to time - I have done stupid things from time to time myself, but it certainly was an awful error of judgement on Doug Beattie’s part.”

Asked if this will affect his relationship with Doug Beattie, he replied: “I never had a bad relationship with Doug at any point. Certainly on Saturday night I was glad I wasn’t around Doug and I didn’t say anything over the course of the next 24 hours, because it is better not to say anything, because I was very annoyed. But I will just get on with things. There is no point in holding grudges in life because holding grudges only hurts the grudge bearer.”

He said it would not make him consider leaving politics.

Mr Poots’ party colleague and DUP deputy leader Paula Bradley condemned the tweet over the weekend.

“This is an appalling comment to make about anyone,” she said.

“To seek to score a political point against an opponent in this manner is not befitting a leader. For the comments to be about a woman not even in public life, is a further indication of Doug Beattie’s default setting.

“This was an offence to all women, at a time when parties are working to stop attacks on women, particularly on social media. It’s no laughing matter.

“He has rightly removed the comment but his attempt at an apology is feeble and only a reaction.

“If he truly felt remorseful and understood the offence he caused to Mrs Poots, her children, Edwin and the wider family, he would have apologised to them directly.”

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long also criticised the remarks.

“Genuinely shocked at just how casually misogynistic that was,” she tweeted.

“It would have made many a 1970s comic blush.”  

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