Agriculture minister Edwin Poots

Edwin Poots

PA

Edwin Poots is to stand down just weeks after being elected as the new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.

He was elected to the role on May 14 – after Arlene Foster resigned as the leader of the DUP – before being formally ratified on May 27. But he lasted just three weeks in the role before announcing his intended departure on Thursday, making him the DUP’s shortest-serving leader.

Mr Poots is standing down following an internal revolt against his decision to nominate a Stormont First Minister, but will stay in his post until a successor is selected.

An internal party meeting was convened after Mr Poots nominated Lagan Valley MLA Paul Givan as Northern Ireland’s new first minister at a special sitting of the Stormont Assembly. It was a move that a significant majority of the DUP representatives opposed and came amid party anger at a UK Government pledge to grant Sinn Fein a key concession on Irish language laws.

He has been a prominent figure in Northern Irish politics but took a step back in early 2021 after facing a cancer diagnosis. Late last year, he tested positive for Covid-19.

Given the DUP’s history of eyebrow-raising quotes, it won’t shock you to learn that Poots has said some pretty remarkable things over the years. Here are some of the most eyebrow-raising.

On creationism

- “My view on the earth is that it’s a young Earth. My view is that 4000BC” - Poots speaking toThe Times’ Matthew Parris in 2007.

On the Big Bang

“You’re telling me that cosmic balls of dust gathered and there was an explosion? We’ve had lots of explosions in Northern Ireland and I’ve never seen anything come out of it that was good.” - Poots speaking to The Radio Times.

On Arlene Foster’s election as leader

- “Her most important job is wife, mother and daughter” - Poots speaking to the Northern Irish Assembly, in January 2016.

On blood donations

- “I think that people who engage in high-risk sexual behaviour, in general, should be excluded from giving blood... And so someone who has sex with somebody in Africa or sex with prostitutes, I am very reluctant about those people being able to give blood.” - Speaking on the Sunday Politics in 2012.

On a gay rugby team:

- “It would be unacceptable to produce an all-black rugby team or an all-white team or an all-Chinese team. To me, it’s equally unacceptable to produce an all-homosexual rugby team and I find it remarkable that people who talk so much about inclusivity and about having an equal role in society would then go down the route of exclusion” - Poots speaking to the Belfast Times in 2008.

On same-sex couples adopting a child:

- “The natural order - whether one believes in God in evolution - is for a man and a woman to have a child and therefore that has made my views on adoption very clear and on raising children very clear, that it should be a man and a woman that raises a child.” Poots speaking in Stormont in 2013.

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