LISTEN Ian Paisley Jr: Attacks on DUP would not have been accepted against Muslims
Attacks on the DUP following their pact with the Conservatives would not have been made against Muslims, one of the party's top MPs has claimed.
Ian Paisley Jr said the Ulster Unionists had been the victims of a "character assassination" since agreeing the deal to prop up Theresa May's minority government.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson is among those who have questioned the DUP's track record on issues like gay rights and abortion.
Despite that, the Prime Minister reached an agreement which will see £1.5bn of extra public spending in Northern Ireland in return for the DUP's support in crucial Commons votes.
Speaking at an event in London last night, Mr Paisley said the DUP had been "the target of near universal hatred" in recent weeks.
He said: "I'm not asking for sympathy - we got the money, the cheque cashed - we were the recipients of vitriol the like of which would have been considered reprehensible and would not have been directed at any other group.
"If I had said some of those things about other groups in our society, or if you had said them even about Muslim groups in this city, you wouldn't have got away with it. You got away with it about us, and I think that is something which needs to be said, but needs to be left there.
"Due to that systematic slander, a lot of people formed an opinion about 'what is the Democratic Unionist Party' and they have this picture of this tired, old, bent-over, humpy old man whose ideas are represented by a cruel snarl upon his face, with his palm outstretched with a cane of wrath and anger and who has recently in the other hand grabbed a bag of money from his friend, Tory, and that has made him even nastier and more oppressive about his neighbour.
"That's a picture that has been carried in the media in the last few weeks about my party. But that image is a caricature of the Democratic Unionist Party - the largest political party in Northern Ireland and a party that carries considerable weight from a significant region of this kingdom. The image of that party which is presented is not my unionism, is not what I'm about, is not what my party is about, but more importantly is not what the ordinary man and woman of Northern Ireland who identifies as a unionist is actually about.
"It is an unfair character assassination and it should cease, and it should cease now."
Mr Paisley said the DUP-Tory pact should be "universally celebrated" for the improvements it will bring in Northern Ireland.
He also pointed out that as part of the agreement, the Conservatives had also agreed to ditch plans to scrap the triple lock on pensions and means test the winter fuel allowance.
"I ask you, how could you object? You shouldn't and I don't believe you can," he said.
Listen to Mr Paisley's words in full here: