Maginnis quits UUP amid gay marriage row

Published Tuesday, 28 August 2012
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Lord Ken Maginnis has said electing Mike Nesbitt as leader of the Ulster Unionists "was a mistake" as he announced his resignation from the party.

Maginnis quits UUP amid gay marriage row
UUP peer Lord Ken Maginnis made the remarks during a radio debate. (© Pacemaker)

Lord Maginnis said he left the party with considerable regret but said after 50 years in politics that he couldn't allow himself to be "gagged".

It follows a dispute with the party leader over comments he made about gay marriage.

On Tuesday Lord Maginnis claimed that, after Mr Nesbitt was elected, the new leader avoided seeing him.

"I would have expected as a senior member of the party, to be seen almost immediately and that's not self-flattery, that's the practicalities of running a party, a party that should have policies and a party that should be demonstrating direct concern for the welfare of our community," he told UTV.

Mr Maginnis accused the leader of using the gay marriage comments as an excuse to push him out of the party.

He added that he did not encourage his colleagues to follow in his footsteps.

But the peer said that, in his view it was a mistake to elect Mike Nesbitt as leader, but added it was "up to the party to decide".

In June Lord Maginnis spoke out in strong opposition against allowing same-sex couples to marry in church during a BBC radio debate, repeatedly referring to it as "unnatural and deviant behaviour" which shouldn't be "imposed" on society.

The senior politician said that gay relationships were "a rung on the ladder" towards bestiality.

At the time the Ulster Unionist Party distanced itself from his controversial remarks and stressed that he was speaking in a personal capacity and not for the party.

Mr Nesbitt later withdrew the party whip from Lord Maginnis.

Reacting to the announcement on Tuesday, Mr Nesbitt expressed his regret at Lord Maginnis's decision to resign.

"This is not the outcome I have been seeking - quite the opposite, in fact. On behalf of the Party and the unionist people more widely, we owe a debt of gratitude to Ken Maginnis," he said in a statement.

"He was a fearless advocate of the Unionist cause, serving the community as a teacher, an Officer in the Ulster Defence Regiment as well as a public representative during his time in elected politics.

"He was the sort of progressive unionist I admire. I regret we will not have access to his experience and expertise as we move to rebuild and revive this great Party. However, 50 years service is a lifetime's devotion, and I must respect his decision."

He added: "I hope we can now focus on a legacy of service over a number of decades rather than concentrate on more recent matters, which I believe could have been resolved at any time."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
24 Comments
ed duff in carrickfergus wrote (547 days ago):
It's about time we went back to the bible and followed God's directions
stephen calderwood in dungannon wrote (786 days ago):
once again utv have failed to answer my comments. You have publised comment about Ken being an old git, and have failed to acknowledge that Mr Nesbit, and i use the term Mr. very loosely,has just kill off the UUP. So the bias of the UTV is very much apparent.
Matt in Ulster wrote (787 days ago):
All the best Ken! You have served both your constituency and Ulster very well for many years! This truly marks the end for the UUP as they continue to lose their most talented party members and they certainly are not being replaced by representatives which are capable of carrying the UUP mantle. Its a sad day for the party which founded this country!
dave in northern ireland wrote (787 days ago):
utv showing its true colours allowing such vile comments to be posted about a respected unionist politician.I think the person who moderates this website needs to resign.As for mike nesbitt who people never thought was even a unionist,he needs to respect people like ken and david mcnarry who are true unionists.
James in the U.S in USA wrote (788 days ago):
I am not a unionist. As a matter of fact, I am anti unionist, I hate all they stand for. HOWEVER, I have been reading comments about this for a long time and want to say that the media blew this out of proportion. I was listening to that interview when he said this. He did NOT say homosexuality was a rung on the ladder to bestiality. He had been saying that being gay was wrong and that allowing gay marriage was a rung on a ladder of society allowing it and what would be next? allowing bestiality? He did not say being gay was a rung on a ladder to bestiality. Go download the podcast and listen to it again. As soon as he said the word bestiality, the interviewer, known for getting worked up, suddenly jumped on him and said, "oh so you are saying being gay is a rung on the ladder to bestiality?" and for the record, I am for gay marriage.
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