LEADER OF the Ulster Unionist Party Doug Beattie has apologised after a number of historic offensive tweets from his account have resurfaced.
The tweets contain misogynistic and racist views, and particularly cause offence to members of the travelling and Muslim communities.
One from 2012 says: "I had a Gurkha company under my charge for three years. They drink lots, gamble all the time and like white hookers."
"What is needed is a few crazies sorting out mental health strategy. They will understand the problem without knowing they have one."
Another tweet uses the 'N-word' while another says "Women are the home maker, men the hunter".
The above mentioned tweets range from the years 2012 to 2014, mostly coming from before he was a member of the UUP.
In a tweet last night, Mr Beattie said he apologises unreservedly for historic tweets.
"I am deeply ashamed and embarrassed by the content of these tweets," he said. "They are totally unacceptable. They do not reflect the opinions or values I hold today."
He said that since he entered politics he has made "a serious effort to increase the representation of women and advocate policies which would improve the lives and wellbeing of all women and girls."
"That is where I stand and I deeply regret the fact that these historic tweets could serve to undermine that position," he continued.
"Misogyny is something which must be taken very seriously and health with through education, listening and understanding. I am sorry that in the past I have fallen short, but I will continue to listen first and foremost to the voices of women and girls.
"My actions going forward will be consistent with the values I hold," he finished.
On Saturday, he also tweeted a joke about the wife of DUP Stormont minister Edwin Poots with reference to a brothel.
He apologised for that tweet on Sunday and soon deleted it.
Speaking on the BBC Nolan Show on Tuesday, Beattie said he was "ashamed" of the tweets and said he plans to speak to the UUP to discuss his future.
"I have withdrawn from all those people who I normally lean on from support. I have isolated myself,” he added.
"I am sitting here as somebody who did things ten years ago. It is not reflective of my leadership of the party. This was before I was in politics. These things are difficult to deal with. I have accepted time and time again it was wrong at every level.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill tweeted on Tuesday that Mr Beattie's comments on "women, race and others are outrageous and totally unacceptable".
Doug Beattie’s comments on women, race & others are outrageous & totally unacceptable. There is a litany of abuse on his account & the public will make up its own mind on that. These regressive, outdated attitudes in society must be faced down.
— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) January 25, 2022
Julie-Ann Corr-Johnston, a UUP candidate for North Belfast, tweeted to say "there is no other leader I trust more with my children's future than Doug Beattie".
UUP candidate for North Down Naomi McBurney also said she stands with Beattie as leader of the party.