Saturday, 7 November 2015

Ridiculous Mr Poots (08/04/14)

For some reason Edwin Poots, a member of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Deputy Mayor of Lisburn and Member of Northern Ireland's Legislative Assembly, seems to believe that gay men in Northern Ireland are completely different to gay men in every other part of the UK.

Now is this the result of sound medical evidence or the result of ignorance and prejudice?

I am pretty sure it is the latter and it speaks volumes about what the DUP stands for, as well as the quality of its leading politicians. 

Lisburn, but the way, is right next door to Newtonabbey in County Antrim where toon councillors banned a play about the Bible because it was 'blasphemous' allegedly, but I can't help wondering if these civic leaders are related to the ridiculous Mr Poots, politically speaking, of course.  

Gay blood: Andy Burnham calls on Jeremy Hunt to explain NI position

By Peter Coulter

BBC News
Andy Burnham said Jeremy Hunt's decision to appeal was surprising

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has called on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to explain his position on gay men donating blood in Northern Ireland.

Mr Hunt has begun a legal appeal after a judge ruled it was up to him if gay men could donate blood in NI. The ban was lifted in Britain in 2011.

The judge said that Northern Ireland's Health Minister Edwin Poots' ban on gay men donating blood was "irrational".

Mr Poots has also begun a legal challenge to the ruling.

'Matter of equality'

A complete ban on gay men donating blood was put in place across the UK during the 1980s, but this was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales in November 2011.

It was replaced by new rules that allow blood from men whose last sexual contact with another man was more than a year ago.

However, the lifetime ban is still in place in Northern Ireland, where Mr Poots said it was needed to ensure public safety.

Last October, a judge at the High Court in Belfast said this was "irrational", and Mr Poots did not have the power to retain the ban as it was a matter for the Westminster health secretary.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is appealing against the judgement

Mr Burnham told the BBC it was "surprising that Jeremy Hunt had decided to appeal this court ruling and he now needs to provide a full explanation".

"Northern Ireland receives blood from across the rest of the UK where gay men have been donors since 2011," said the Labour MP.

"This is also a matter of equality, and gay men in Northern Ireland should have the same rights to help others by donating their blood as gay men in England, Scotland and Wales."

Sinn Fein's Caitriona Ruane said she felt disappointed by the approach of Mr Poots and Mr Hunt.
A high court judge ruled Edwin Poots' decision to ban gay men from donating blood was 'irrational'

"I'm appalled that Edwin Poots is squandering public money to defend discrimination. Look at the state of the health service, look at his lack of management, people waiting on trolleys and dying in hospitals and what he is doing is squandering public money, defending the indefensible.

"The DUP needs to look at these court cases and accept court rulings on the basis of equality, rather than their own religious or personal opinions."

The gay rights organisation Stonewall also criticised the appeals.

James Taylor, head of policy at Stonewall, said: "At a time when we need blood donations right across the UK, it's unfair that gay and bisexual men in Northern Ireland are being unfairly discriminated against with a lifetime ban on donations.

"This is a policy not rooted in modern scientific evidence."

Northern Ireland gay rights charity, the Rainbow Project, said it was "disappointed" by the latest developments.
Sinn Féin's Caitriona Ruane said she was disappointed by the approach of Mr Poots and Mr Hunt

In a statement, a spokesperson for Mr Poots' department said the judge's decision "potentially has wide-reaching consequences beyond the immediate subject matter of the case, and the Department of Health and Social Services has strong legal advice recommending an appeal, and accordingly it is appropriate that those arguments should be presented to the Court of Appeal.

"It would not be appropriate for the department to comment further when an appeal to the court is pending."

In a statement, a UK Department of Health spokesperson said: "We have considered the potential implications of the judgement, both for blood donation and for devolution.

"Following legal advice, we have submitted an appeal against the ruling."

The case is due before the court next month.

Blasphemy U-Turn (6 February 2014)

Now here's a good news story - the crazy councillors from County Antrim in Northern Ireland who banned a play about the Bible because it was blasphemous - have seen the light, backed down and reversed their decision. 

Better still the Reduced Shakespeare Company now expects its play - The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) - to be a complete sell-out.

Wonders will never cease. 

Banned comic play about Bible expected to sell out

The play is now expected to sell out

The comic play about the Bible that was cancelled, then reinstated, by a County Antrim council, is expected to sell out.

The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) had sold only 150 of a possible 800 seats before the controversy erupted last week.

Only six tickets were left unsold at 21:30 GMT on Tuesday.

The play's two-night run at Newtownabbey Borough Council's Theatre at the Mill begins on Wednesday.

The council box office extended its opening hours on Tuesday, and its website also crashed because of a surge in demand.

The play was originally cancelled by the council's artistic board after complaints from some councillors that it was blasphemous.

However, after widespread condemnation of the move, the artistic board changed its mind on Monday night, and the council ratified the decision to let the play go ahead.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company was already rehearsing the play at the Theatre at the Mill before the council performed its U-turn.