DUP: a watershed change

Politics Editor

Northern Ireland’s recent local elections have resulted in unexpected gains for Alliance and smaller parties, whilst Sinn Fein has had “a mixed set of results”. Yet, alongside the announcements for the 462 seats in NI, the DUP experienced “a watershed change” by electing their first openly-gay councillor.

First openly gay DUP candidate elected

Alison Bennington was elected in the Antrim and Newtonabbey elections and will become the first openly-gay DUP candidate to be successful in election. She has caused controversy though, since becoming the first openly-gay councillor to represent a party which has been in consistent opposition to the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Arlene Foster, the current DUP leader has announced that Alison Bennington’s victory in the elction does not necessarily mean that there will be a resultant shift in party policy. The question must be asked, therefore, how Ms Bennington’s homosexuality will be received within a party which was not consulted before she was selected as the DUP candidate, as Jim Wells argued. He goes on to state that DUP members feel “let down and very concerned” as they expect the DUP to “hold the line of these moral issues”. Though, this seems to be an absurd notion, Ms Bennington’s sexual orientation does not necessarily form her political opinion and is only one element of her identity.

She has been criticised for nothing more than her sexual preference

DUP MP for East Belfast, Gavin Robinson said that “if you believe in our party’s principles, if you stand for our values, if you are prepared to go forward and seek selection and you are selected and elected by the people – then get on and do the job”.

DUP members fell “let down and very concerned” about “moral issues”

She has stood for and been elected as a DUP councillor, and so, as far as I’m concerned, she has proved her political ability and should be given a chance before she is criticised for nothing more than her sexual preference. The very fact that her electorates have voted her into the position she now holds represents a possible shift in the mindset of the voters for DUP, that sexuality is an insignificant aspect of a politician’s credibility.

Photo by David Brossand via Flickr

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