Northern Ireland

Breastfeeding in Commons: MP Sammy Wilson criticised for remarks

Sammy Wilson
Image caption Sammy Wilson claimed it would amount to exhibitionism if women members of Parliament were allowed to breastfeed in the House of Commons

The DUP has distanced itself from remarks over breastfeeding made by one of its most senior MPs.

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson claimed it would amount to exhibitionism if women members of Parliament were allowed to breastfeed in the House of Commons.

His party said the comments represented a personal view.

It said it was "vital we continue to promote breastfeeding and ensure adequate public awareness of its benefits".

"The party has not had an opportunity to read or consider the report which relates to the House of Commons," a DUP spokesman said.

"Comments made this morning represented a personal view.

"We recognise that the benefits of breastfeeding are well established, with a positive impact on both babies and mothers.

"It is vital we continue to promote breastfeeding and ensure adequate public awareness of its benefits."

Image caption DUP MLA Pam Cameron tweeted her disagreement with Mr Wilson's remarks

Initially Mr Wilson had said there was an element of voyeurism in women wanting to breastfeed in the chamber.

When challenged by broadcaster Stephen Nolan on BBC Radio Ulster's The Nolan Show, Mr Wilson amended his comment to "exhibitionism".

Image caption Alliance councillor Sian O'Neill said she was disgusted at Mr Wilson's remarks

DUP MLA Pam Cameron made it clear she did not agree with Mr Wilson's comments through a tweet, which ended "I'll sort him out".

A pregnant Alliance councillor Sian O'Neill said she was disgusted at the MP's remarks.

"They represent an antiquated and out-of-date view both in terms of breastfeeding in public but also in terms of women's value and role in public and civic life," she added.

Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson said she was "astonished".

"I found myself shouting at the radio, this is a senior politician, he needs to grow up," she said.

"It is acting like a schoolboy giggling at the back of the biology class."