Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

PSNI chief Baggott 'is a disgrace' - firebrand DUP councillor calls for resignation

The DUP has been urged to clarify its stance on law and order after a firebrand councillor called for the Chief Constable's resignation and branded him "a disgrace" over the policing of Union flag protests.

Ruth Patterson said she was ashamed of Matt Baggott when she spoke at Carrickfergus United Loyalists parade on Saturday.

"The political policing and persecution of our Protestant people must stop. They beat our woman and our children off the streets," the Belfast councillor told a crowd of loyalists at the event. "That in my book is wrong and they must be held account for that."

Ms Patterson, a former member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, said Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly had Mr Baggott "wrapped round his wee finger".

"He needs to go," she added, referring to the PSNI chief. "He's a disgrace and some of our police officers are nothing short of a disgrace as well."

SDLP councillor Colin Keenan called on First Minister Peter Robinson to clarify his party's position on policing following Ms Patterson's comments, which appeared on online video sharing site YouTube.

"This is just the latest example of DUP double-speak. The public deserve to know what the DUP position on respect for law and order actually is," he said.

"In light of these comments I call on the DUP leader, Peter Robinson, to clarify whether his party position on policing is the same as that articulated by Alderman Patterson."

Speaking at the same event, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt suggested there will be unionist unity candidates in Belfast at the next Westminster elections.

The UUP supported an agreed unionist candidate in March in the Mid Ulster Westminster by-election, after the resignation of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness.

Nigel Lutton lost to Sinn Fein's Francie Molloy, but after his strong showing, Mr Nesbitt had hinted that there may be more cooperation between the parties.

"Today in Belfast, our capital city, only one of the four Members of Parliament is a unionist. If we all cooperate in two years time three of the four could be unionist," he said.

"And while we couldn't take necessarily West Belfast back to Westminster if we cooperate at the next Assembly election we could have a unionist representing west Belfast and the whole city will have unionist representation either at Stormont or at Westminster."

Background

This isn't the first brush with controversy for Ruth Patterson.

In 2004, she was accused of advising Catholics living in apartments in Sandy Row to move if they objected to the display of loyalist flags.

Last year, she refused to condemn the burning of an Irish tricolour at Belfast City Hall.

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