Northern Ireland Police Investigate Harassment Claims During DUP Leadership Competition

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Police in Northern Ireland are investigating allegations of harassment by a loyalist paramilitary group during the recent DUP leadership contest.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who narrowly lost to Edwin Poots in the match, reportedly claimed that the UDA had threatened members of his team at a rally of the party to ratify the election of Stormont’s agriculture minister as leader.

Mr. Poots, an evangelical Christian creationist who believes the Earth is 6,000 years old, said today that claims of harassment should be reported to the police.

In a statement, the PSNI confirmed that they are investigating a report of harassment.

Edwin Poots smiles as he prepares to speak to the media following his endorsement as DUP leader, replacing Prime Minister Arlene Foster, in Belfast

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson's MP arrives for Edwin Poots' press conference in Belfast

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s MP arrives for Edwin Poots’ press conference in Belfast

Young earth creationist and LGBT critic representing the traditional wing of DUP

Edwin Poots is a creationist and farmer who is seen as a political hardliner – who was involved in the ousting of Arlene Foster.

The 55-year-old father of four has sparked criticism on LGBT rights – he has opposed gay men and women adopting children or donating blood in the past.

He backed Christian bakers found guilty of discrimination in 2015 after refusing to make a cake for gay rights activists.

But it is another part of his evangelical Christian beliefs that is drawing the most attention.

He is a ‘young earth creationist’ who rejects the theory of evolution and believes the world was around 4000 BC. Made by God.

He has also criticized the theory of evolution and the outspoken humanist scientist Richard Dawkins.

He was also criticized when Arlene Foster became DUP leader when he said her ‘main job’ remained that of wife, mother and daughter ‘.

Dissatisfaction with the DUP’s Brexit strategy was a major factor in the action against Ms. Foster, with the party behind it laying some of the blame for the emergence of an Irish Sea Border on its doorstep.

Traditionalists from the religious-fundamentalist wing of the party also harbored concerns about Ms Foster’s positions on some social issues, most notably her decision to abstain during a recent vote in the meeting on a proposed ban on gay conversion – a proposal that the majority of her party members were against.

“Police have received a complaint that some members of a political party have been threatened during a recent leadership campaign,” said a spokesman.

“The full circumstances of the incident are still being established and the investigation is continuing at this time.”

Mr. Poots rejects the theory of evolution and believes that the world was created by God around 4000 BC.

Critics have also attacked what they see as a long history of attacks on LGBT rights in Ulster. He backed Christian bakers who were cleared of discrimination in 2015 after refusing to make a cake for gay rights activists in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

He was also criticized when Arlene Foster became DUP leader when he said her ‘main job’ remained that of wife, mother and daughter ‘.

Mr Poots has also taken a firm stand against the post-Brexit ‘protocol’ for Northern Ireland, which has effectively kept the province in the European customs union and internal market for goods since the beginning of the year.

He previously told the media that no member of his team engaged in harassment and insisted they fight for a fair and clean campaign.

“If someone has been intimidated, it should be reported to the police,” he said.

“I can assure you categorically that none of my team members engaged in harassment or harassment.

‘We fought a fair campaign, we fought a clean campaign, it was a close match, I accepted the outcome and I would have accepted the outcome had I lost it.

“I would encourage everyone else, if there was anything that was done undesirably by anyone, it would have to be reported to the police, and it certainly didn’t come from my team.”

When asked if he felt rejected by Sir Jeffrey, Lord Dodds and Gregory Campbell, who were among those who left the meeting for his speech following his endorsement as leader, Mr. Poots replied, “ It is up to Nigel and Jeffrey and others to for myself, I have behaved correctly and appropriately and with honor throughout this process, and I will continue to do so in my role as leader of this party. ‘

Allegations of bullying and threats have been made by senior members of the DUP amid claims of deep division in the party.

An unnamed senior party member told the BBC there was talk of ‘bullying and intimidation’ ahead of a secret ballot to decide the DUP’s next leader in what was their first leadership contest in the party’s history.

Doug Beattie, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, described the UDA allegations as ‘shocking’ in a speech to BBC radio program Stephen Nolan.

“There must be a police investigation,” he said. “No one should be intimidated at any stage.”

Mr. Poorts is a 'young earth creationist' who rejects the theory of evolution and believes that around 4000 BC.  Made by God.

Mr. Poorts is a ‘young earth creationist’ who rejects the theory of evolution and believes the world was around 4000 BC. Made by God.

Mr. Poots said that if he won the position of party leader, he would not serve as prime minister, but delegate the position elsewhere.

He was asked about his religious beliefs during a BBC radio interview in 2007.

Asked how old he believes the Earth is, he reportedly replied, ‘I look at the Earth that it is a young Earth. My opinion is 4000 BC. ‘

Mr. Poots was Minister of Culture at the time of the interview and he was asked by another interviewee: “You are the Minister of Culture and you don’t believe in evolution?”

He replied, ‘Yes, absolutely. And you tell me that all this evolution took place over billions of years, and yet it is only in the last few thousand years that man could really learn to write? ‘

Mr. Poots hit on scientist Richard Dawkins during the same interview, saying to the program, “Hey [Mr Dawkins] everyone wants to indoctrinate with evolution. ‘

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