Health Minister Jim Wells Jim Wels quits after facing police probe over remarks he made lesbians and  children in gay relationships

DISPATCHED: Health Minister Jim Wells Jim Wels quits after facing police probe over remarks he made lesbians and children in gay relationships

DUP Health Minister Jim Wells has quit his post after police launched a probe into  a second gay remarks row which had engulfed him.

He says he is stepping down from his post next month to care for his wife Grace.

His party has yet to name his successor.

The DUP MLA had already been under party orders not to speak to the media following an incident in south Down during the week where he claimed children were more likely to be abused or neglected by gay parents.

The remarks prompted a wave of revulsion and outrage, with party MLA Pam Cameron saying she “disassociated” herself from his comments.

Mr Wells later apologised saying he had been under a lot of stress and won the backing of party leader and First Minister Peter Robinson.

In a statement on the party website this morning, Mr Wells said: “Having been my chief supporter throughout my career my first duty will always be to look after Grace and my family.

“Consequently I met with Peter and requested to stand down from Ministerial office.  I really appreciate the opportunity I was given to be Health Minister.

“I will leave the department with great memories and a massive appreciation for the work being carried out at every level of the service.

“I was touched at Peter’s willingness to put other supportive arrangements in place to allow me more time with Grace but the portfolio requires more undivided attention than I can now give so I believe my decision is the right one.

“As the leader has asked me to assist with an orderly transition within the department my resignation will take effect from Monday 11th May.”

Yesterday, it was reported in a Sunday newspaper that he was suffering from a rare sleep disorder called narcolepsy.

And a pal told the Sunday Life that he had no intention of standing down.

Wells his party colleague: “Are you winding me up? The thought hasn’t even crossed my mind.”

Now a second gay remarks row has hit Mr Wells.

Police said on Sunday they were investigating after an incident during an election canvas in Rathfriland.

It is understood it involved Mr Wells and a lesbian couple.

The PSNI are trying to establish if an offence has been committed.

The police said it had received three complaints regarding the conduct of an individual in Rathfriland on Saturday evening.

It is alleged that Jim Wells, who was doing door-to-door canvassing, called at a lesbian couple’s house, and during a conversation was critical of their lifestyle.

The daughter of one of the women said her mother was upset.

She said Mr Wells had gone back to the house twice saying he wanted to apologise. But the couple would not accept the apology, because, they claimed, Mr Wells said he did not agree with their lifestyle choice.



Peter Robinson accepted Mr Wells resignation, saying he was right to put his family first and he would “fully support his decision”.

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