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Northern Ireland Health Minister resigns after homophobic comments

By Ben Kelly

Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Jim Wells has bowed to pressure and resigned, following offensive homophobic comments he made over the weekend.


Jim Wells, of the DUP, was filmed at an event last week saying, “You don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship. That child is far more likely to be abused and neglected.” He was severely criticised by other Northern Ireland parties, and by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who said “the mask has slipped” on the DUP’s homophobia, but the DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson defended Wells, claiming he was just “having a bad day” and cited the health problems of his wife as an excuse. An online petition for his resignation garnered almost 10,000 signatures in two days.

Furthermore, it was revealed yesterday that he was being investigated by the police over a second incident which occurred on Saturday, when he criticised a lesbian couple’s ‘lifestyle choice’ while canvassing their door in County Down.

In a statement released this morning, Wells announced his resignation will take effect from 11th May, citing his wife’s health as the reason he is stepping down. “I have come to the point where I am no longer able to continue my ministerial duties and give Grace the attention she deserves,” he explains. Neither of the weekend’s incidents are referred to in his text.

Jim Wells shares his party’s views that same-sex marriage should remain illegal in Northern Ireland and that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt. He has a reputation for blocking gay commentators and news sources who challenge him on Twitter. The DUP are coming under increasing scrutiny as it is becoming apparent their 8 seats could be crucial to forming a coalition after 7th May.