Northern Ireland minister who said children of gay parents are more likely to be abused steps down

Jim Wells says he wants to spend more time with his family, following a police investigation

Jon Stone
Monday 27 April 2015 10:59

A Northern Ireland politician who said children are more likely to be abused by gay couples has resigned to spend more time with his family, he has said.

Jim Wells, a DUP assembly member and health minister in the devolved government, was investigated by police after he made the comments at a hustings.

“You don't bring a child up in a homosexual relationship. That a child is far more likely to be abused and neglected,” he had said.

He later apologised for the remark in a statement, saying “I regret having wrongly made that remark about abuse and I'm sorry those words were uttered. The comment did not reflect my view nor that of my party.”

But today Mr Wells said he was stepping down to help care for his wife, who suffers from a medical condition.

“As many people are aware I have been focused on helping my wife during her fight for life,” he said.

“Those who know my family and I, know the last three months have been the toughest of our lives as we watched my wife, Grace, suffer two successive strokes and battle through major heart surgery."

“However, as she now faces further challenges I have come to the point where I am no longer able to continue my ministerial duties and give Grace the attention she deserves,” he added.

“Even in circumstances where Grace was sufficiently recovered and discharged, she would then more than ever require substantial assistance with rehabilitation. Having been my chief supporter throughout my career my first duty will always be to look after Grace and my family.”

BBC News reports that the Northern Ireland police service received three complaints regarding the conduct of an individual in Rathfriland, County Down, on Saturday evening.

The broadcaster says it has been alleged that Mr Wells on that day criticised the lifestyle a same-sex couple after visiting their home during door-to-door canvassing.

The health minister’s resignation was first reported by the Belfast Telegraph.

The DUP, which returned eight MPs at the 2010 election, could potentially hold the balance of power after next month’s poll, which is predicted to result in a hunt parliament.

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