Frontrunner in race to replace Arlene Foster as DUP leader is a ‘creationist who believes the world was created 6,000 years ago’
- Arlene Foster said yesterday that she is quitting as DUP leader and First Minister
- Edwin Poots is viewed as one of the people most likely to succeed Mrs Foster
- Mr Poots has previously said he believes the earth dates back to ‘4000 BC’
One of the frontrunners in the race to replace Arlene Foster as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party is a creationist who believes the world is 6,000 years old.
Edwin Poots, Stormont’s current Agriculture Minister, said in 2007 that he believes the earth dates back to 4000 BC.
He also hit out at scientists who he claimed wanted to ‘indoctrinate everyone’ with the theory of evolution.
Mr Poots this afternoon formally announced his intention to stand for the leadership of the DUP.
The Lagan Valley Assembly member outlined his reasons for running in a video posted on Twitter.
‘I am a proud Northern Ireland man, I love its people and its place, and it faces many challenging times, it’s with that in mind, I’m putting my name forward for the leadership for the Democratic Unionist Party,’ he said.
‘I look forward to the engagement and the debate with colleagues and the wider public in this contest.
‘Northern Ireland is a place that has had many great things over this last hundred years, I wish to see us rebuild, revitalise, reinvigorate and revive for the next hundred.’
It is unclear whether Mr Poots will yet have competition in his bid to take charge of Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party. The DUP has never had a contested leadership race.
Edwin Poots, Stormont’s current Agriculture Minister, has been tipped as a potential successor to Arlene Foster as DUP leader. He announced his candidacy for the top job this afternoon
Mrs Foster announced yesterday that she is stepping down as DUP leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland
What is creationism?
Creationism is the religious belief that all life exists as the result of divine creation.
It includes a belief that all the forms of life in existence today were created by God.
Some creationists believe this happened in a single event while others do not.
Creationism follows the account set out in the Bible for how the world came into being.
Scientists reject creationism as unscientific and there have been major rows in the past over whether it should be taught in schools.
The UK Government said in 2014 that creationism could not be taught as a valid scientific theory in any free school or academy.
Mr Poots was asked about his religious beliefs during a BBC radio interview back in 2007.
Asked how old he believes the earth is, he reportedly replied: ‘My view on the earth is that it’s a young earth. My view is 4000 BC.’
Mr Poots was a culture minister at the time of the interview and he was asked by another interviewee: ‘You’re the culture minister and you don’t believe in evolution?’
He replied: ‘Yes, absolutely. And you’re telling me that all of this evolution took place over billions of years, and yet it’s only in the last few thousand years that Man could actually learn to write?’
Mr Poots hit out at the scientist Richard Dawkins during the same interview, telling the programme: ‘He [Mr Dawkins] wants to indoctrinate everyone with evolution.’
Mr Poots was also asked about his faith when he was appointed environment minister in 2009.
He told the Belfast Telegraph: ‘I am a Bible-believing Christian and I do not see that will impact in any way, shape or form on my role as Environment Minister.’
Mr Poots has held a number of senior executive portfolios at Stormont and he has been tipped by many as the leading contender to replace Mrs Foster.
Mrs Foster yesterday announced that she was resigning as DUP leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland after an internal party revolt over her handling of Brexit.
She said in a statement that she intends to step down as DUP leader on May 28 and will then quit as First Minister at the end of June.
She said it has been the ‘privilege of my life to serve the people of Northern Ireland as their First Minister’ as she brought the curtain down on her five and a half year tenure as DUP leader.
The 50-year-old Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative also indicated her resignation will mark the end of her political career, as she said she was preparing to ‘depart the political stage’.
There is some speculation that when Mrs Foster does depart, the twin roles she currently occupies could be split, with one politician taking on the role of party leader and another being appointed First Minister.
That would potentially allow an MP to lead the party from Westminster while an MLA takes on the First Minister’s job.