Northern Ireland Health Minister resigns

Northern Ireland Health Minister resigns

NORTHERN Ireland's Health Minister has quit, a week after he made controversial comments about gay marriage. 

Jim Wells’ resignation from the Stormont Executive will take effect on Monday, May 11.

In a statement the DUP MLA said that he was stepping down to care for his seriously ill wife.

"Having been my chief supporter throughout my career, my first duty will always be to look after Grace and my family," he said.

Mr Wells caused controversy last week after claiming that children were more likely to be abused in unstable relationships.

Video footage was released following an election hustings event in South Down that showed him saying the "facts show you certainly don't bring a child up in a homosexual relationship".

In his statement he added: “The events of the last week have taken place against the backdrop of a difficult period.

"On the issue of comments I have made which have attracted significant publicity, I have already said sorry for the offence caused and acknowledged that the comments were factually inaccurate.

"At no time did I set out to hurt or offend anyone and it has upset me greatly that the comments made have caused distress to some within our community.”

Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson said he respected Mr Wells' decision to resign.

He said: "I would have wanted it to be otherwise but I respect Jim's decision. However, he is right to put his family first and I will fully support his decision."