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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C

This article on female politicians was "misrepresented" - not sexist, says paper

It also focused on the posters of five male politicians.

election poster spread Belfast Telegraph Belfast Telegraph

THE BELFAST TELEGRAPH ran an article today that focused on the posters used by nine political candidates in Northern Ireland.

The feature was derided online over the comments made about the posters of four female politicians in particular.

Of Workers Party candidate Gemma Weir, the paper said:

Nobody likes austerity, do they? So it’s only right that the party whose slogan is “Standing against austerity” should have a stunning, raven-haired temptress with a come-hither smile as its poster girl.

Of Alliance candidate Naomi Long, it said:

That fiery red hair is priceless. She gets away with it, because it is nature’s endowment. But that necklace? It makes her look as if she has just nipped out of a grand ball to lend us a few moments of her time.

In a response on its website, the Belfast Telegraph said that the spread has “been wilfully misrepresented by being selectively shared online”.

It pointed out that the article looked at the posters of five men as well as the posters of four women – and that it also commented on the appearance of the men.

Of the poster of DUP candidate Gavin Robinson, for example, the paper said:

Gavin can’t smile. Perhaps he shouldn’t try. And his eyes look as if they have been polished up with Brasso. He actually looks quite scary. He has teeth that look as if they were never intended for eating with.

The Belfast Telegraph said it asked two writers, Malachi O’Doherty and Frances Burscough, “to take a tongue-in-cheek look at how the candidates had chosen to publicly present themselves”.

The paper added:

The key word here is “humour”.
Political parties — without exception — employ professional PR people and professional photographers and stylists to make themselves look “good” on posters which pollute every telegraph pole in the land, but then complain about people passing comment on the image they are actually trying to convey on them.

The paper said that the “question should be asked: why posters at all”.

It concluded that the “women issue is a diversion – which they are all very good at promoting”.

The reaction to the apology has varied:

The paper’s editor, Gail Walker, said:

What do you make of the article? Tell us in the comments.

Read: NI health minister apologises for anti-gay remarks and resigns>

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