Belfast Telegraph

Monday 30 May 2016

DUP lodges formal complaint over Sinn Fein councillor's joke selfie with Queen

Published 11/02/2016

The Sinn Fein councillor's tweet has since been deleted.
The Sinn Fein councillor's tweet has since been deleted.

The DUP has lodged a formal complaint over a Sinn Fein councillor's selfie with the Queen's portrait.

Sinn Fein councillor Patrice Hardy took a picture of herself in the town hall chamber in Ballymena on Tuesday night with the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in the background.

She posted it on Twitter with the caption "Big Liz says Dia dhuit", a common Irish greeting that means hello or, literally, God be with you.

Beside the text were shamrock and Tricolour emojis.

Councillor Hardy, who is vice chair of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's planning committee, has since removed the post and apologised for any offence caused.

But the DUP has lodged a formal complaint with the council's chief executive, claiming the post was "inappropriate".

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, Councillor Hardy said: "I initially posted the photo as an attempt at humour however, on reflection, I decided to remove it as I felt it may cause offence, which was never my intention."

Confirming the complaint was lodged, DUP Alderman Greg McKeen told the Belfast Telegraph: "I didn't feel it was appropriate. Her position is vice chair of the community planning committee which suggests she is supposed to be representing the whole of mid and east antrim.

"And to put this inappropriate tweet out pre the meeting starting - I thought it was an insult to her Majesty the Queen in the context that it was put out."

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When asked if it was worthy of a formal complaint Mr McKeen said: "If you look at the code of conduct for councillors and behaviour it's potentially bringing the council into disrepute by putting that out and making such a joke and a laugh about the whole situation."

Mr McKeen added: "It was removed very quickly so I'm taking that by her hasty removal from it she is admitting that she was wrong in what she had done. I believe she should apologise to the full council and to the citizens of mid and east Antrim for her behaviour."

A spokesman for the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said that photography is not currently prohibited in the Council chamber.

He said: "The matter is being examined internally in light of the Code of Conduct and the Social Media Guidelines for Elected Members."

Meanwhile the DUP have remained silent over two complaints lodged against its MLA Jim Wells.

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