Christopher Stalford: Alliance leader Naomi Long and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood defend DUP MP Carla Lochkart’s bible tweet

Alliance leader Naomi Long and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood have defended DUP MP Carla Lockhart after she quoted a bible verse in tribute to Christopher Stalford.

By Philip Bradfield
Monday, 21st February 2022, 7:09 pm
Updated Monday, 21st February 2022, 8:15 pm

Mr Stalford, a married father-of-four, died suddenly at the weekend, prompting an outpouring of tributes from across the political spectrum.

On Sunday Ms Lockhart tweeted of her friend: “Absolutely devastating news. My thoughts and prayers are with Laura and his wee family. A colleague and friend. A faithful servant. At home with Christ which is far better.”

However her tweet prompted what many described as “a pile-one”, with over 200 comments.

DUP MP Carla Lockhart tweeted a tribute to Christopher Stalford, who died tragically at the weekend.

One of the more polite responses came from AA Ron. He said: “I’m sure you meant well, but that last line is, at best, misjudged, and at worst, is offensive to his family who would rather he was with them.”

But Alliance leader Naomi Long lept to her defence.

“Please, stop attacking Carl Lockhart over her tweet, today of all days,” she tweeted. “She is grieving.” Ms Long noted Carla was quoting Philippians 1v23 “about the faithful being torn between service in this life and being with Christ in eternity”. She added: “It’s a very common Christian quote, which his family will understand.” Her tweet attracted over 1000 likes.

Similarly, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood branded the criticism as “disgusting”, adding that it “shows how this platform can be so poisonous”. He added: “Many people seem to converse in a way that they would never dream of doing in person. I just don’t get it. Solidarity with Carla Lockhart.”

Ms Lockhart told the News Letter that she stands by her comment. “Christopher’s faith, shared by Laura, his beloved wife, offers that promise of eternal life in glory when the Lord calls us home,” she said.

“That time is not of our choosing - Christopher’s love and zest for life, and most of all his love for his family - would have meant he no doubt would have loved to have lived a long life. But we know that was not God’s plan.

“For the family - in the depths of such sorrow - there is great comfort in that surety that Christopher is in his heavenly home. The surety of our eternal home however does not remove the sadness for those left behind.”

Another tweeter, Fred Crawford, also came to her defence. He said: “The comments underneath show the widespread illiteracy regarding Christianity in our society. All Christians believe that to be with Christ is far better, that is the hope of the faith and why we believe what we do. This view should be respected right now.”

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