Poots defends remark on ‘stench’ of Sinn Fein murders

Edwin Poots (left) and Alex Maskey (right) on Nolan Live on Wednesday night with host Stephen Nolan
Edwin Poots (left) and Alex Maskey (right) on Nolan Live on Wednesday night with host Stephen Nolan

The DUP’s Edwin Poots stood firmly by his comments that his party members have to hold their noses when doing business with Sinn Fein.

Speaking to Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey on Wednesday night, he said that while it was in the “interests of Northern Ireland” for the DUP to deal with the republican party, “we will hold our noses and do business with you”.

He spoke on the Nolan Live show about the IRA’s murder campaign and said that “there’s a stench that still rises from that in many homes across Northern Ireland”.

Mr Maskey, Sinn Fein MLA for West Belfast, responded that the comments had shown Mr Poots’ “true colours”.

But the DUP MLA for Lagan Valley stood firm on Thursday.

He told Good Morning Ulster that “many people across Northern Ireland find it appalling that Sinn Fein are in government”.

Speaking on Thursday’s Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster, the DUP’s Simon Hamilton said he “understood entirely” what Mr Poots had meant.

Mr Hamilton (aged in his late 30s) said that while his generation might not have suffered as much as others did during the Troubles, it did not mean he was prepared to “forget what the IRA did”.

However, Kyle Paisley, son of former First Minister the late Rev Ian Paisley, strongly criticised Mr Poots for his comments.

Speaking on BBC Talkback, he said: “It is rather disappointing to say the least, for unionists to go into government with Sinn Fein and then talk about their partners in government with that sort of language.

“It makes unionism look bad and while Sinn Fein hold their patience on television, it makes them look good.”

Asked what his father would have done regarding current tensions between the DUP and Sinn Fein, he added: “I think he would have looked for a consensus.”

He added: “I think he would have had a more pragmatic approach than has been taken in more recent times.”

Mr Poots went on air for an extended period on Talkback on Thursday to coolly defend the comments he had made on Wednesday night, in the face of many critics.

He asserted that he had full respect for “ordinary” Catholics who had not engaged in terrorism, and added that he had been the first DUP politician to have attended a GAA match.

One Catholic caller agreed with the position he had taken, and likened Sinn Fein to being a “bully” in their community.

Mr Poots said he had been using a “figure of speech”.