Belfast Telegraph

Ex-TUV candidate unrepentant over Twitter support for racists

By David Gordon

A former election candidate for Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) has been criticised for praising staff sacked for under-paying benefits to ethnic minorities.

Ann Cooper ran for Jim Allister's hardline unionist party in the recent Castlereagh Council by-election.

The TUV has made clear that she is no longer a member and does not speak on its behalf.

Ms Cooper voiced support on her Twitter account for the seven men sacked by the HMRC for racial discrimination.

An internal investigation into staff based at a Belfast call centre found the men had deliberately underpaid ethnic minorities.

‘Tweeting’ on the case, Ms Cooper said: “Well done lads. Sorry you got caught. You deserve a medal. We need more like you.”

A TUV spokesman stated: “TUV can confirm Ann Cooper is no longer a member of the party. Anything she says she says as a private citizen.”

Ms Cooper stood unsuccessfully in May for the Castlereagh Council seat left vacant by the resignation of disgraced former DUP politician Iris Robinson.

Her Twitter postings include links to the BNP and other extremist right wing websites.

She told the BBC yesterday she had left the TUV party last month “because my views are very strong and I didn't want to embarrass the party or Mr Allister”.

She added: “This is a democracy and people are entitled to have opinions and express them.

“People in this country are sick of ethnic minorities coming here and getting things ahead of us.”

Castlereagh Alliance Councillor Judith Cochrane has voiced disgust at the Twitter comments.

“They are nasty and are totally incorrect. We need to challenge urban myths about immigration and concentrate on the facts and challenge prejudice.

“It is worth noting that Ann Cooper trailed in last in a recent by-election whilst Alliance, which promotes equality and a shared future, more than doubled our vote and the people of Castlereagh East helped to elect Naomi Long as their MP,” the councillor said.

Ms Cooper's Twitter account states: “Any views posted on this site are my views and are in no way connected to the TUV.”

Her blog, which describes her as a Dundonald driving instructor, features a similar statement.

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