©INPHO/Andrew Paton

Backlash after DUP representative's criticism of GAA

Future Stormont minister Jim Wells’ criticism of the GAA for sanctioning misleading and inappropriate charitable collections has provoked a spirited response from the Alliance Party.

THE MAN EXPECTED to succeed Edwin Poots as Northern Ireland’s Health Minister has found himself on the receiving end of some strong criticism after suggesting that supermarket collections organised by the GAA were an unnecessary affront to the beliefs of his unionist constituents.

DUP representative Jim Wells wrote to the owners of a number of Co. Down stores after receiving several complaints regarding collections in the Newcastle and Downpatrick area.

Quoted in an article by Noel McAdam in today’s Belfast Telegraph, Wells claimed that “many Unionists would not be comfortable supporting the organisation,” and that “it should be genuine charities that need the money, not an organisation that is rolling in money.”

He also suggested that, at the very least, collectors state their interests clearly through the wearing of clearly legible badges and armbands.

The Alliance Party’s Anna Lo described the comments as “negative and churlish,” while Barry McElduff, former head of the Assembly’s Culture and Sports Committee, suggested that Wells “look further than the end of his nose” when commenting on such matters.

Read more from Noel McAdam in today’s Belfast Telegraph>

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