DUP politician defends Portrush visit during lockdown after returning from London

DUP politician defends Portrush visit during lockdown after returning from London

DUP POLITICIAN Sammy Wilson has defended travelling to Portrush during lockdown despite having just returned from London.

The MP was spotted at the coastal town over the weekend after returning from London, and faced criticism for travelling when Northern Ireland's lockdown rules state no non-essential travel should take place.

Mr Wilson had returned from London, which was in Tier 4 at the time, shortly before his trip to Portrush, and was questioned as to why he was not self-isolating.

A man who spotted Mr Wilson at the coast took to Twitter where he asked "Isn't [Sammy Wilson' supposed to be self-isolating after returning from London (tier 4)?

"I just walked past him on Portrush East Strand.

"Would be curious [to] find out why he thought his trip to Portrush was essential."

The Democratic Unionist Party MP responded to the query by quoting Covid-19 travel guidelines between the Common Travel Areas, writing: "People who routinely cross the border for essential purposes are not subject to these requirements."

DUP MP Sammy Wilson pictured in 2015. (Picture: RollingNews.ie)

Mr Wilson has been criticised in the past for appearing to flout the rules surrounding the coronavirus pandemic: in September, he was seen not wearing a mask on public transport in London.

Following backlash, the MP told PA News Agency "I didn't have a mask on, should have had it on and am offering no excuse".

However, he added that it is "sad that we have now become like East Germany under the Stasi where members of the public think it is acceptable to act as snoops", saying the concerned member of the public should have approached him privately rather than posting his photograph on social media.

Yesterday evening, DUP leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, condemned "huge" crowds who had gathered in coastal areas such as Portrush over the weekend despite the lockdown.

She told the BBC "I was sent photographs of Portstewart and Portrush over the past couple of days and there were huge crowds gathering together and I really regret that".

Ms Foster did not mention whether she was aware DUP MP Sammy Wilson was among the crowds at Portrush.