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'dark humour' Ulster Unionist party members rally around leader Doug Beattie after 'misogynistic' tweet

The UUP leader was accused of being 'misogynist' over a joke he posted on Twitter at the weekend

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UUP leader Doug Beattie (Brian Lawless/PA)

UUP leader Doug Beattie (Brian Lawless/PA)

UUP leader Doug Beattie (Brian Lawless/PA)

Doug Beattie is to remain leader of the Ulster Unionist Party after his colleagues backed him following a tweet he posted at the weekend which was branded as ‘misogynistic’.

Mr Beattie apologised for his tweets, some of which were posted a decade ago, saying: “I will absolutely accept that my tweets were misogynistic…”

He added: “I am not a misogynist, they were [a] misogynistic joke.”

The former Army officer, who was awarded the Military Cross for bravery in Helmand province in Afghanistan, also said that his “dark humour” was used as a coping mechanism and that what he wrote on social media ten years ago was “fundamentally wrong”.

He further explained: "All I can do is front up to them and make the case that I am deeply sorry and apologise to everybody, the whole of society, certainly to women who may feel let down, to those people who I brought into the party.

"I will absolutely accept that my tweets were misogynistic and I will absolutely stand up to that, but I am not a misogynist."

Meanwhile, his colleagues rallied around him, with north Belfast UUP member Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston saying there is no other leader she would ‘trust more with my children’s future’ than Mr Beattie.

Naomi McBurney, who is standing for election in the North Down constituency said she believes Mr Beattie can “continue to deliver for Northern Ireland”.

Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill described the Ulster Unionist’s leader’s tweets as “unacceptable” and “regressive”.

In reference to his tweets from 2011, Mr Beattie said they were “not right”.

He said: “It was wrong. It was attempted humour and I was attempting to use humour, in some cases I was disparaging about myself in using that humour.

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“Again, if we are going back to that time then clearly I was using something that was wrong. I’ve moved on from that.”

In reference to a tweet he published in 2012, in which he said, ‘what’s needed is a few crazies sorting out mental health strategy. They’ll understand the problem without knowing they have one’, he said: “It’s bad. It’s awful.

“I don’t know what was going through my head to write that in the manner that I was writing that.

“I think what I was trying to say is that those people who suffer from mental health issues are the people who are best placed to design the support they require and I wrote it in the worst way possible and there’s no excuse for that.”

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