Ballymoney DUP Councillor, John Finlay, has launched a scathing attack on what he described as the “malicious agenda” of the Equality Commission for its decision to pursue legal action against Ashers Bakery and its critical dismissal of Paul Givan MLA’s proposed conscience clause.
He has also called for the funding of the Equality and Human Rights Commissions to be radically reduced.
Councillor Finlay said, “I have long regarded many of the quangos in Northern Ireland as a waste of public money, and recent developments have merely confirmed the accuracy of my assessment. Indeed, not only are they wasting public money but they are actually misusing it, which is a very serious matter.
“Since the establishment of devolution in 2007, these unelected bodies have flexed their muscles on several occasions and some of them are currently acting, it seems to me, in open defiance of our democratically elected politicians. For example, the Fair Employment Commission is taking the abortion issue to the courts at a time when the Minister of Justice has been consulting the public on the issue.
“I am particularly angered by the malicious agenda of the Equality Commission in its outrageous decision to pursue legal action against the small family-run Ashers Bakery, and also for its sweeping condemnation of the efforts of my party colleague, Paul Givan MLA, to introduce a conscience clause into legislation to protect the rights of Christians in business.
“It seems that when it comes to human rights and equality, some rights are more important than others and some people are ‘more equal’ than others. In order to protect the rights of a wide range of groups in our society, the Equality Commission appears to be quite prepared to deny Christians their rights.
“The legal action against Ashers is a disgraceful misuse and abuse of tax payers money and I call upon the Equality Commission to draw back even at this late hour. It is clear from this action that there is an urgent need for legislation to protect Christians and I therefore warmly welcome and fully support what Paul Givan is seeking to do.
“Ideally, I would like to see the Equality Commission and the Human Rights Commission scrapped. They are hangovers from the direct rule era and need to go. Meanwhile, as they seem determined to ride roughshod over the democratic process, I take the view that they should have their funding radically reduced until such times as they disappear completely.”