Former First Minister and leader of the DUP party on Sunday past attended the GAA final which took place in Clones, Co Monaghan, in the Irish Republic where she watched her native Fermanagh play County Donegal in the Ulster Final alongside SF leader in NI Michelle O’Neill. The DUP leader was also joined by DUP MLA Christopher Stalford.
The two party leaders were pictured exchanging a handshake as well as appearing on social media together in ‘selfies’.
But opinion has been divided with some welcoming the move as an indication of trying to restore stormant and moving forward including the DUP leaders decision to also attend a LGBT event later this week.
Mrs Foster also made comment on attending the GAA final, saying;
“As a political leader, sometimes we have to do things that we wouldn’t be comfortable with, ordinarily”
Others however have criticised Mrs Fosters decision at the weekend including local Ballymoney Councillor John Finlay who wrote and open letter to his party leader, which reads,
I write with a heavy heart to express my deep sorrow and indignation at your decision to attend a sporting event on the Lord’s Day.
You said on air 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.
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. As we seek to move Northern Ireland forward, I fully recognise that there must be room for manoeuvre in any negotiating situation. However, I would contend that Biblical standards are absolutes and therefore non-negotiable.
The Democratic Unionist Party was founded on strong Biblical and Protestant principles, and an adherence to Biblical teaching on moral and ethical issues has always marked us out as being different from all other parties. 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. The party has always held to a high view of the Lord’s Day, as a cursory glance at our record in this area will confirm, and it is extremely upsetting that you feel that you can suddenly sweep that aside because you regard it as politically expedient to do so.
God will bless faithfulness to Him. The leadership of a major political party is a tremendous honour and privilege, but it also carries solemn responsibilities. I close with some words spoken by God in 1 Samuel 2:30, “Them that honour me I will honour”. I urge you to reflect upon those words.
Jim Alastair also posted on social media on Sunday with a reference , it’s assumed, relation to Mrs Fosters attendance at the final.
Mrs Foster was up around the North Coast on Monday at various engagements including visiting the new 5NINES digital centre in Coleraine which has now been completed.