26 September 2017
DUP Leader Arlene Foster MLA said,
Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and First Minister of Northern Ireland
“It is disgraceful that tonight during a public meeting two DUP representatives had to be escorted out for their own safety.
During a Western Trust public meeting held in the Verbal Arts Centre, both Gary Middleton MLA and Councillor Hilary McClintock were intimidated and heckled to such an extent they had to leave the meeting.
I condemn this bullying behaviour. This is not how democratic politics should work. This approach resembles a fascist society rather than a democratic society. Whilst there will be differing views in public meetings, people should not be surrounded and forced to leave by an emergency exit. Their point should have been heard and respected.
Gary and Hillary attended the meeting on behalf of their constituents. They wanted to express their view on how to improve health care in the north-west. That opportunity was denied by extreme and dangerous elements.
To have any public representative attacked in the manner, which was on display tonight is shameful. Such hate cannot be tolerated.
I will be seeking a meeting with the Western Trust about how this developed but also about how it can be avoided in future. My constituents have views about the health service and their voice will be heard.”