Northern Ireland

Edwin Poots' comments about Gerry Adams condemned

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Media captionEdwin Poots accused Sinn Féin of covering up their 'paedophile-protecting president'

Sinn Féin has described comments about Gerry Adams by Health Minister Edwin Poots as "highly unprofessional".

Mr Poots accused Sinn Féin of being more interested in covering up for their "paedophile-protecting president" than serving their community's needs.

The comments came during a debate over the ban on blood donations from gay men.

The Sinn Féin leader has not responded to the accusations, but his party has said they should be withdrawn.

Mr Adams has been accused of withholding information about his niece's sexual abuse by his brother, Liam Adams, who was found guilty of rape last month.

During the debate, assembly speaker William Hay shouted "order" and warned Mr Poots to be careful with the language he used, reminding him there was a standard of debate.

Mr Poots said he accepted that but added there was a "standard in life that people expect".

"When people are aware of paedophile activities taking place they should report it," he said.

"And the leader of Sinn Féin, the president, was aware and he believed it and he didn't report it.

"So don't come with me seeking withdrawals. You'll not be getting any withdrawal from me on this issue," Mr Poots added.

'Not ministerial'

In response, Sinn Féin's Maeve McLaughlin, told Stormont Today that Mr Poots' approach in the chamber was "highly unprofessional".

"Sinn Féin will be looking very closely at the transcript in relation to coming to a decision around the next steps, but certainly his behaviour today was not ministerial and was not professional," Ms McLaughlin added.

Mr Adams, who resigned as a Stormont MLA in 2010 to stand for election in the Republic of Ireland, was in the Dáil (Irish parliament) when Mr Poots made his remarks.

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