Imagine, if you will, that a Conservative or Labour MP had uttered these words in the middle of an official parliamentary committee...
There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children. There must be sufficient confidence that the community has the best possible protection against such perverts, and it is important that there be a mature public debate on the issues, but the security of our citizens must be our overriding priority.Imagine further, that when asked about those remarks the MP "clarified" them in these terms...
I cannot think of anything more sickening than a child being abused. It is comparable to the act of homosexuality. I think they are all comparable. I feel totally repulsed by both.The MP in question was not a Conservative or Labour MP, but leading DUP MP Iris Robinson, who also happens to be married to the leader of the DUP and the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson. If Mrs Robinson had been an English MP for one of the main political parties the London based media would have, by now, hung her out to dry. She would also have been disowned by her party.
I did an interview on this for BBC Radio Ulster this morning. Strangely Mrs Robinson did not appear to defend herself, neither did anyone else from the DUP. During the interview Mrs Robinson released a statement to further "clarify" her remarks. Apparently she didn't really mean it. Let me fisk her remarks. My comments in italics.
The remarks in the Grand Committee report do not accurately reflect my views.
Strange you should have been so definitive in your comments then.
While I will be seeking to check the Committee recording, what I clearly intended to say was that child abuse was worse even than homosexuality and sodomy.
Worse EVEN? I should think so seeing as though homosexuality is actually legal in this country.
While I have strong views on homosexual activity based on the Scriptures, it can in no way be equated with child abuse.
Good, we're making progress of sorts.
If that had been the impression I created at the Committee, I would have expected other Committee members to correct me immediately.
They were probably in shock.
At no point have I set out to suggest homosexuality was worse than child sex abuse.
Er, yes you did. Both in the debate and in the Belfast Telegraph this morning. See above.
There can be no comparison between the two. My entire contribution at that Committee meeting was about highlighting the gravity of sex offences and indeed calling for stronger sentences.
Pity you didn't draft your speech more carefully then, isn't it, love?
Whenever I see a statement from a politician which contains the words "What I meant to say..." I can see that they have been leant on. In this case probably over the breakfast table. Mrs Robinson has form on this issue. A few weeks ago she said that homosexuals should receive psychological counselling in order to be cured of their condition. I have to say that it's not me who needs to see a psychiatrist.
It's a free country and I fully defend Mrs Robinson's right to come out with such bigoted, ill judged claptrap. But by doing so she just reinforces existing prejudices among certain people who then feel expressing them in a violent way is somehow acceptable and can be defended because of the "scriptures". Not long ago a gay man in Belfast was beaten to death in a violent, homophobic attack. While I am sure Mrs Robinson, being a good Christian, would never condone any form of homophobic attack, she should not be surprised if her remarks give succour to those who perpetrate them.