Northern Ireland

Ian Paisley apologises for criticising journalist

Ian Paisley Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The NUJ described Ian Paisley's post as "unwarranted and unworthy"

Ian Paisley has issued an apology for an online post he made about reporter Sam McBride.

The DUP MP said he accepted he should not have "accused either Mr McBride or the News Letter of lying and failing to give an honest, professional, analysis of politics".

He added that his original comments had been "incorrect" and "intemperate".

In a tweet, Mr McBride said he was "pleased" with the retraction and that "the matter is now closed".

Mr Paisley wrote the original Facebook post in response to an article by Mr McBride in the News Letter.

The political editor's article suggested the DUP had prioritised opposition to an Irish Language Act over resisting change to Northern Ireland's abortion law.

Mr Paisley was criticised for his remarks, which the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) described as an "unwarranted and unworthy" personal attack on a prominent political journalist.

Mr Paisley said the "Christian ethos of the DUP is under attack from the press" and referred to what he described as Mr McBride's own Christian background and education.

The North Antrim MP argued that his party had "not been found wanting on the campaign to prevent the implementation of the most draconian abortion laws".

It was typical of the press to "blame unionists for a decision that was not theirs", he said.

Image caption News Letter political editor Sam McBride said anything he wrote was his "honest professional - not personal - opinion"

He also strongly denigrated the News Letter journalist's character, claiming he was "despicable... immature... and simplistic".

Mr McBride accused the MP of making "a series of untrue allegations", adding that while people had a right to dismiss his analysis, anything he writes was his "honest professional - not personal - opinion".

Personal attack

Speaking to BBC News NI on Saturday, the NUJ's Seamus Dooley said Mr Paisley's reaction had been "completely over the top".

"I think the lesson here is that politicians should keep their private thoughts to themselves," he said.

"It is OK to have an untweeted thought. I also think that they [politicians] need to accept that there will be a criticism of the performance of their duty."

He added the North Antrim MP had "gone beyond the bounds of acceptable political discourse and has engaged in a personal attack which is extremely damaging".

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