Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

I'm a scapegoat for Peter Robinson, says race row councillor Dineen Walker snubbed for top post

Angry: Dineen Walker

A DUP councillor has hit out at her own party, accusing it of making her "take the flak" for Peter Robinson's controversial comments in the row over Islam.

Newtownabbey representative Dineen Walker blasted the party and said it had used her as a scapegoat when it was decided to block her ambitions of becoming mayor of the borough.

Ms Walker sparked controversy when she called Alliance MLA Anna Lo "a racist" on social media at the height of the controversy.

She was due to be voted in as mayor just days later – until the DUP decided to back one of its other councillors.

Now she is angrily asking why the First Minister was allowed to keep his job despite the criticism he faced about backing outspoken cleric Pastor Jim McConnell, who described Islam as Satanic and claimed he wouldn't trust a Muslim.

Both men later apologised.

Ms Walker told the Newtownabbey Times: "It was easier to put the flak on me and take the flak off Peter Robinson. I feel totally let down. I feel totally discriminated against."

The long-serving councillor also said she believed the same decision would not have been made about a male councillor.

"I honestly feel that if a man had made that same comment he'd still have got the post," she added.

A DUP spokesman denied the councillor's claim.

"The necessity to replace councillor Walker as the DUP candidate for mayor was a result of her own actions and no one else," he said.

"Any suggestion that this decision was taken because of her gender is ridiculous and without foundation."

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