N. Ireland Politics

Mike Nesbitt: Goebbels tweet by UUP leader criticised

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Media captionMr Nesbitt was responding to allegations that he had sought public money to build a mosque in Belfast

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has been criticised for a tweet quoting Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

Mr Nesbitt was responding to allegations that he had sought public money to build a mosque in Belfast.

Asked about the tweet, Mr Nesbitt said: "The point I was making was that on social media it is very easy to spin a lie, the way the Nazis did."

Stewart Dickson, Alliance Party MLA, said that Mr Nesbitt should apologise for the tweet.

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Mr Nesbitt posted a quote from Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda, when he said "a lie, repeated a thousand times, becomes a truth".

"There are plenty of ways in which to get that message across but linking it to the Nazis, linking anything to the Nazis either positively or negatively, I don't believe helps anyone," said Mr Dickson

"I believe he should apologise and there are a whole range of people he needs to apologise to in respect of any raising of the spectre of the Nazis and Goebbels."

The tweet prompted an angry reaction from some who questioned why he used a quote from such a controversial figure to try to make a point.

Some drew comparison between what Boris Johnson had to say recently when he tried to compare the aims of the EU with those of Hitler and that landed him in hot water.

Stewart Dickson, Alliance Party MLA, said that Mr Nesbitt should apologise for the tweet.

"There are plenty of ways in which to get that message across but linking it to the Nazis, linking anything to the Nazis either positively or negatively, I don't believe helps anyone.

"I believe he should apologise and there are a whole range of people he needs to apologise to in respect of any raising of the spectre of the Nazis and Goebbels."

Response

In response, the Ulster Unionist Party said a politically motivated rumour, which is spread over social media from time to time suggesting Mr Nesbitt supports public funds for a mosque in Belfast, is not true.

The BBC also asked the UUP why the party leader used the quote from Goebbels.

The party said in a statement: "The point is people spread lies using social media."