I'm not an IRA sympathiser, says SNP politician Feargal Dalton
An Irish-born Scottish Nationalist Party politician has rubbished online smears that claim he is a supporter of IRA violence.
More than 1,200 people have signed a petition by Scottish unionists to have Glasgow SNP councillor Feargal Dalton removed from office by party leader Nicola Sturgeon.
Mr Dalton, who denied that he is an IRA sympathiser, said: "This is hateful bigotry. It's racism. And I have better things to do than entertain bigots and racists." It's the latest online attack on Dublin-raised Mr Dalton, who last year complained to police that he was the victim of racist abuse on Twitter by posters who claimed he glorified terrorism, allegations which he denied.
On a Facebook page, Mr Dalton, who was a Royal Navy officer for 17 years, was accused of supporting republican ideology on social media. The blogger, who is only identified as 'Patriotic Unionist', also attacked other SNP politicians including Margaret Ferrier, Brendan O'Hara and Tommy Sheridan for their stances on Irish nationalism.
Mr Dalton, who represents Partick West on Glasgow City Council, was singled out for the most venomous attacks.
Five days ago he tweeted: "Some folk still struggling with me being #Irish. Scotland's now my home. Deal with it:-)#oneScotlandmanycultures"
He was criticised on the unionist site for using the Irish tricolour on his Twitter page and retweeting an image of a bar in west Belfast flying LGBT flags before the Republic's recent referendum on same-sex marriage.
The site also questioned the councillor's support for Easter Rising centenary commemorations in Scotland and for reading the proclamation at the graveside of Glasgow veterans of the uprising. But there's no mention of the councillor's backing for more support for military and navy veterans of conflicts.
Mr Dalton, the son of a Crossmaglen woman, has also spoken in the past of wearing a poppy "to remember and support a great veterans' charity".
It was not, he said, an endorsement of any foreign policy of the British Government.
Mr Dalton's journey to Scottish nationalism was an unusual one.
He graduated from University College Dublin as an electronics engineer and moved to England to take up a commission in the Royal Navy in 1993.
He's on record as saying that it was only when he spent a week training in the Highlands that he first appreciated the cultural links between Ireland and Scotland.
He put in a transfer north of the border to Scotland and Glasgow became his home.