MP Sammy Wilson criticised for breastfeeding comments

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has come under fire from supporters of breastfeeding in the House of Commons, after he said there is an element of voyeurism in women wanting to breastfeed in the chamber.female-MPs breastfeeding

Whilst on the Stephen Nolan on BBC Radio show he amended his comment to “exhibitionism”.

Speaking on the Nolan show on Radio Ulster, Wilson said: “If it can be done privately, it should be done privately. I don’t believe an inability to breastfeed in the House of Commons is something that puts women off becoming MPs.”

His comments came after an independent review was released advising that MPs be allowed to breastfeed in the House of Commons chamber to set an example to the rest of society.

Alliance councillor Sian O’Neill, who is currently pregnant, said Wilson’s remarks “represent an antiquated and out-of-date view both in terms of breastfeeding in public but also in terms of women’s value and role in public and civic life.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson said she was “astonished.”

“I found myself shouting at the radio, this is a senior politician, he needs to grow up. It is acting like a schoolboy giggling at the back of the biology class.”

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has since distance itself from the remarks by saying they were representative of a personal view.

A DUP spokesperson said it is “vital we continue to promote breastfeeding and ensure adequate public awareness of its benefits”.

“The party has not had an opportunity to read or consider the report which relates to the House of Commons. Comments made this morning represented a personal view.

“We recognise that the benefits of breastfeeding are well established, with a positive impact on both babies and mothers. It is vital we continue to promote breastfeeding and ensure adequate public awareness of its benefits.”

Next week marks National Breastfeeding Week.


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