A DUP councillor has spoken of his “deep sorrow and indignation” at his party leader’s decision to attend a GAA match on a Sunday.
In a strongly worded letter to Arlene Foster, Alderman John Finlay accused her of “publicly flouting the Lord’s Day”.
The Ballymoney councillor also claimed that Mrs Foster had caused deep hurt within the grassroots support of the party by attending the Ulster GAA final in Co Monaghan on Sunday.
In his letter to Mrs Foster, which the News Letter has seen, the Causeway Coast and Glens representative added: “You said that you realised there are some people who may be uncomfortable with you being at the GAA match on a Sunday, but you then went on to say: ‘But let me tell you this, I am the leader of a political party that wants to have a shared society in Northern Ireland’.
“I regard those comments as dismissive and patronising, and I wonder if you have any appreciation of the depth and extent of the hurt you have caused across the party membership and its support base.”
Mr Finlay said the party has always held the Lord’s Day “to a high view”, adding: “It is extremely upsetting that you feel that you can suddenly sweep that aside because you regard it as politically expedient to do so.
“How you treat the Lord’s Day in your own personal life is a matter for you, but as leader of my party, you have no right to publicly flout it on the grounds that it is necessary to do so on the basis of promoting a shared society.”
Arguing that Biblical standards are “absolutes and therefore non-negotiable”, Mr Finlay continued: “I commend the current leadership of our party for its stand on key areas such as abortion and same-sex marriage, and I believe that God will bless our continued adherence to Biblical principles on these issues.”