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DUP councillor who backed Bell is his sister-in-law

By Cate McCurry

A DUP councillor who publicly backed suspended party member Jonathan Bell has been revealed as a family member.

Pamela Barr gave her full support to Mr Bell after he announced he will be running as an independent in the forthcoming election.

It has since emerged that the former DUP minister's wife, Lisa, is Mrs Barr's sister.

Mrs Barr, a mother-of-two, works as a P4 teacher at Forth River Primary School.

The former Strangford MLA broke party ranks to speak out about the Renewable Heating Incentive scandal, alleging attempts were made to keep the seriously flawed scheme open for longer - during which time there was a rush of applications.

His claims have been denied by DUP leader Arlene Foster and the party's special advisers. In the aftermath, the DUP faithful backed their party leader.

Mr Bell was suspended over the matter, forcing him to register as an independent for the March 2 election.

On Tuesday, former social worker Bell announced his intention to seek re-election, saying it was "time for the truth".

"Support you 100%," the DUP Antrim and Newtownabbey councillor replied in a tweet.

She also posted a similar message on her Facebook account, writing "I support Jonathan 100%".

The councillor regularly tweeted pictures of the pair together in the run-up to last year's Assembly elections.

Since the party suspended Mr Bell, she continues to tweet messages of support for her brother-in-law.

A spokeswoman for the DUP said the party would not be commenting on the matter but added that Mrs Barr remains a member of the DUP.

Mrs Barr did not respond to requests for a comment.

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