Ken Maginnis quits UUP
Former Ulster Unionist MP Ken Maginnis has announced his resignation from the Ulster Unionist Party amid a row over his attitude to gay men.
Maginnis, now ‘Baron Maginnis of Drumglass’, was the focus of international criticism when he said in June that gay relationships were “a rung on the ladder” towards bestiality. He also stated that homosexuals were ‘deviants’ and ‘paedophiles’.
Maginnis, who had supported the party leadership bid of former news anchorman Mike Nesbitt, was suspended by Nesbitt over his comments. He finally broke with the party after he referred to gay marriage as “unnatural and deviant behaviour”.
Announcing his resignation, the hardliner said it was a “mistake” to elect Nesbitt as party leader.
The UUP leader offered to restore the party whip just hours before the resignation in an effort to heal the rift with one of the party’s most senior and influential members. But he turned it down.
Mr Maginnis said: “If ever there was a hollow gesture in the 11th hour, that was it.”
Mr Nesbitt said: “This is not the outcome I have been seeking -- quite the opposite, in fact. On behalf of the party and the unionist people more widely, we owe a debt of gratitude to Ken Maginnis.”
Mr Maginnis was an MP from 1983 to 2001. He served in the murderous B-Specials and was later a major in the British Army’s equally controversial UDR.
A popular figure within the mainstream media, which presented him as a liberal among unionist hard liners, he is remembered by republicans for the gloating remarks he made in the aftermath of the killings of IRA Volunteers Brian Campbell and Colm McGirr.
After the two were shot dead by the British Army’s SAS in December 1983 near Coalisland, County Tyrone, Maginnis said: “Two swallows do not make a summer. One would be foolish to gloat on this particularly successful operation, because in the very nature of things, there are many more godfathers and leaders within the IRA organisation.
“Nonetheless one is grateful to the security forces for preemptive action which has obviously saved the lives of innocent people.’’
Ater eight IRA Volunteers were ambushed and killed at Loughgall on 8 May 1987, Maginnis said he was “encouraged” and called for selective internment.
The UUP ‘security’ spokesperson has also maintained that human rights lawyers Pat Finucane and Rosemary Nelson were IRA sympathisers.
Confirming his resignation this week he said: “I have agonised over the last three months. Currently there is no room for independent or logical thinking within the party and that does not suit me.”