A POLITICIAN who formally complained to party officers over the selection of the DUP’s first openly gay candidate told them that Dr Ian Paisley would be “turning in his grave”.
Councillor John Finlay, who was re-elected to Causeway Coast and Glens Council, also stated “some soul searching is now required” by those within the party who supported Alison Bennington’s candidature.
The remarks were made in a letter to DUP officers last month.
The Ballymoney representative also warned that support for the party’s “family values” from “across the community divide” was “in jeopardy”, claiming the “foolish” selection would cost votes.
He added: “I accept that society’s morals are changing, but not for the better, and we need to be prepared to continue to swim against the secular and godless tide.”
The complaint, a copy of which was passed to this journalist today, was confirmed as authentic by councillor Finlay who said its contents were not intended to be released into the public domain.
He declined to make any further comment despite the fact Ms Bennington is now officially a DUP colleague after her history making election.
Letter in full:
Ms Bennington secured a seat on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and will represent the Glengormley district. She attracted 1,053 votes on the sixth count.
Log serving DUP councillor John Finlay, who represents the Ballymoney DEA, was elected to Causeway Coast and Glens Council on the first count, securing 1,322 first preferences, an increase of around 250 from the last local government elections
The revelation of his complaint complaint comes as DUP leader Arlene Foster said her party will have to look at the “bad behaviour” of members following similar comments by former Health Minister Jim Wells.
The South Down DUP MLA criticised the selection of Ms Bennington and claimed party founder and former First Minister, Rev Ian Paisley, would have been be “aghast”.
Paisley once led a campaign to “save Ulster from sodomy” and prevent the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Mr Wells claimed that after Ms Bennington’s election he was contacted by many DUP voters who were “very concerned” about the decision to put her forward as a candidate in the local government elections.
However, party leader Mrs Foster said she was delighted to see Ms Bennington elected.
Asked how she would deal with Mr Wells’ comments about Ms Bennington’s selection as a party candidate, the former First Minister said: “Well, of course he (Mr Wells) shouldn’t have been making those comments on the media.
“He should have been coming through the normal routes, through the party, if he had concerns about those issues.
“But we’ll look at all of those issues after the election. We’ll be looking at vote management schemes, we’ll be looking at where we did very well – and we’ll be looking at bad behaviour as well,” she said.
It is not the first time Councillor Finlay has made a strongly worded written complaint to DUP chiefs.
Last year he accused Arlene Foster of “publicly flouting the Lord’s Day” after she attended a GAA match on a Sunday.
He berated the party leader after she attended the Ulster GAA final in Co Monagahan last summer.
He wrote: “How you treat the Lord’s Day in your own personal life is a matter for you, but as leader of my party, you have no right to publicly flout it on the grounds that it is necessary to do so on the basis of promoting a shared society.”
Arguing that Biblical standards are “absolutes and therefore non-negotiable”, Mr Finlay continued in the letter: “I commend the current leadership of our party for its stand on key areas such as abortion and same-sex marriage, and I believe that God will bless our continued adherence to Biblical principles on these issues.”