Comments made by North Antrim MP Ian Paisley have been condemned by The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) as “unwarranted and unworthy”.
The condemnation follows an ‘verbal attack’ on journalist Sam McBride of the Belfast Newsletter, by DUP MP Ian Paisley.
Mr Paisley wrote a reply on Facebook to Sam’s article on the ‘likelihood of abortion being legalised in Northern Ireland’.
The NUJ have agreed that the Irish secretary of the Union, Séamus Dooley, will write to Mr Paisley.
Séamus Dooley said:
“Sam McBride outlined the current political context in Northern Ireland. As an experienced political analysist, he set out the facts and placed them in the context of the current political situation in the UK. At no stage has he expressed a personal opinion on the substantive subject of abortion.
“Ian Paisley’s consequent attack on Sam McBride was unwarranted and unworthy of an MP. It was a clear attempt to smear the professional reputation of a conscientious journalist. The tone and tenor of Paisley’s comments were unacceptable and completely misrepresent the position of McBride.
“Paisley is not entitled to impute political motives to the political editor of the News Letter in a manner which is designed to undermine his professional reputation.
“Paisley has gone beyond the bounds of acceptable political discourse and has engaged in a deeply personal attack which is extremely damaging. His references to McBride’s family background, religion and education were inappropriate.
“The consequence of this behaviour has been a vile reaction on social media. In considering Paisley’s comment I hope the DUP leadership and members will recognise the integrity of McBride and his track record as a journalist of long standing.”
There has also been political reaction to Mr Paisleys comments, with TUV leader Jim Allister saying;
“In public life we all have things written about us with which we disagree. That comes with the job. Furthermore, public representatives have a right to respond to criticism or commentary in a factual manner.
“What I do not believe we have the right to do is to launch a tirade of abuse against an individual including the journalist’s family and even his school. It also does nothing for Mr Paisley’s case and credibility to attack Sam McBride as an “intellectually weak and a simplistic fellow.” This is something which anyone with even a passing knowledge of Sam and his work will dismiss immediately.
“To bring Christianity into his tirade of abuse makes Mr Paisley sound all the more hollow.”