DUP man in foul-mouthed attack on UUP MLA

(l-r) Bobby Rice, Sammy Wilson and Stephen Ross at the DUP conference
(l-r) Bobby Rice, Sammy Wilson and Stephen Ross at the DUP conference

The DUP has declined to say whether it will discipline a member who stood for election in 2014 after he was behind a public foul-mouthed attack on a unionist MLA.

In a Facebook post, former UDA prisoner Bobby Rice, who ran for election as Robert Harrison-Rice, attacked East Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA John Stewart as “one hateful b*****d” and described him as “s**t for brains Stewart”.

Responding to the comments, Newtownabbey DUP councillor Stephen Ross joked about the post, saying: “lol [laugh out loud] say what you think lol”. Mr Rice replied: “Feckin hate the man with a passion bro”.

The comments come amid DUP calls for unionist unity.

When asked if Mr Rice would be disciplined for the comments, a DUP spokesman said: “The party does not condone any abusive or insulting language. Political debate should be carried out in a respectful manner.”

Incoming UUP leader Steve Aiken said: “The comments from Bobby Rice – who describes himself on social media as a DUP community representative and was a DUP council candidate last May - are sadly not untypical of the contemptuous attitude displayed by too many in the DUP towards other unionists.”

Referring to the exchanges between Mr Rice and Mr Ross, he said: “Those people who call for unionist unity should take note of this before they repeat such calls in the future.

“Last Friday Arlene Foster stated that she wanted to build a collaborative vision for unionism [and] she recognised that unionists can and do come from all communities...if she is serious, Arlene Foster really needs to start by having a word with some of her own DUP councillors, workers and candidates, and her first calls should be to Cllr Stephen Ross and Bobby Rice.”