Anti-papal mockery ‘like 1970s throwback’ – MLA

Anti-papal mockery ‘like 1970s throwback’ – MLA MLA Robbie Butler

DUP members of the Stormont Assembly have been accused of mocking a fellow party member for attending the civic reception for Pope Francis in Dublin Castle.

A senior member of the party criticised Lagan Valley MLA Robbie Butler for attending the August 25 event, referring to the Pope as “the Antichrist”, while another MLA mockingly blessed himself while passing Mr Butler in a Stormont corridor, Mr Butler has told The Irish News.

Mr Butler attended the event in a personal capacity, and although it was attended by representatives from Stormont’s other main parties, the DUP did not formally send anyone to the reception.

He described how he was subsequently confronted by a colleague near his Stormont office: “He wagged his finger at me and told me I was doing the wrong thing by agreeing to go to the civic reception, before saying: ‘Don’t you know he’s the Antichrist?’”

This episode left him “stunned”, he said, while he said the second incident, where an MLA mockingly blessed himself, “was a throwback to the 1970s”.

Declining to identify either MLA, he said that while their behaviour had “disappointed” him, it had also this “validated” his decision to go to Dublin.

“I felt it was the right thing to do – if you can’t be a good neighbour you can’t expect to have good neighbours,” he said.