The new Culture Minister of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland will not attend events at Catholic churches because it’s against his religion.
Nelson McCausland, who has been described as a "Protestant fundamentalist," was appointed to Northern Ireland’s cabinet by DUP party leader Peter Robinson last week.
“I have personal views regarding worship and I would not attend a service in a Roman Catholic Church,” said McCausland.
“That has always been my position and remains such. That doesn’t mean that I do not have good relationships with Roman Catholic people. I wouldn’t want to offend them and I am sure they wouldn’t want to offend me.”
However his refusal to attend events held in Catholic Churches has angered N.I. politicians.
The Social Democratic and Labour Party’s (SDLP) Declan O’ Loan said: “Nobody can expect a minister to be fully conversant with all aspects of language, culture and sport that we have here. It is important, however, that he shows himself respectful to all. He seems to ignore his duty in that regard.”
One of McCausland’s official actions as cultural minister was to launch the Orange Order’s July 12 events on Wednesday.
McCausland said he would not attend any event on Sunday, unless it was an Orange Order parade, which might include a church service. He said his role, as a minister did not automatically mean he must visit a Catholic church or other venues that he might not normally visit.
“There are places that I am sure I will go that I would not otherwise have gone, but when it is a matter of religious principle then I would have to abide by that,” he said.
McCausland, who admitted he didn’t even know that Co. Tyrone were the reigning All-Ireland football champions, revealed his ignorance about the Gaelic language and Gaelic sport.
Said McClausland: “I have no knowledge of the game in terms of who has won what league or who is playing in a particular league, any more than I have a knowledge of who the Northern Ireland champion is in lacrosse or squash or many other sports,” he said.
Daithí McKay, Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Antrim, said since McClausland came into office less than a week ago, he “has engaged in a media campaign attacking the GAA, the Irish language and now the Catholic Church.”
McKay added, “once again a senior figure in the DUP has failed the test of political leadership”.
Today McCausland visited the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area) area of Co. Donegal to meet Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affair Éamon Ó Cuív and Northern Ireland Education Minister Caitriona Ruane. When reporters asked the Minister if he planned to learn a few words in Irish he said, “I think that my knowledge of Irish will remain somewhat limited.”
“I always take the view that just because somebody can say a few words in any language doesn’t mean they have any knowledge of it. I am living at present in a cul-de-sac but it doesn’t mean I am very fluent in French.”