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'Bullied' councillor at the centre of Red Sky row quits DUP ahead of disciplinary probe

By John Porter

Published 20/05/2015

A tearful Jenny Palmer tells her story on BBC Spotlight
A tearful Jenny Palmer tells her story on BBC Spotlight

The DUP councillor who claimed she was bullied by the party over how to vote in a Housing Executive meeting has quit the party.

Jenny Palmer said she had been ordered by a DUP special adviser Stephen Brimstone to change how she intended to vote at a Housing Executive board meeting.

It had been called to terminate a contract with controversial maintenance firm Red Sky in 2013.

The social development committee launched an investigation into how the then minister, Nelson McCausland, handled the Red Sky affair.

The committee spent several months investigating allegations on a BBC Spotlight documentary over political interference in the running of the Housing Executive.

Mrs Palmer told the programme that Mr Brimstone, who was special adviser to McCausland at the time, told her: "The party comes first.

"You do what you are told. Otherwise there is no point in you being on the board."

Mr Brimstone has challenged her version of events.

The DUP was set to hold a disciplinary investigation, accusing Ms Palmer of bringing the party into disrepute.

However, the Lisburn councillor revealed she had tendered her resignation last night.

"I certainly won't hang around for them to discipline me for telling the truth," she told the BBC. She also said her husband John - a fellow Lisburn councillor - had also resigned.

Mrs Palmer said it was with a heavy heart she was leaving the party.

She added: "My family are resigning.

"My mother is resigning… from the party because of the behaviour within the party that hold the power within Northern Ireland.

"We are all of the opinion that we've been treated very badly. I knew that I had to complete the journey."

Mrs Palmer said that while the party had been good to her and "works really, really well", she believed that individuals within the DUP were bringing it down.

Mr Brimstone, meanwhile, has been elevated to the position of special adviser alongside First Minister Peter Robinson.

DUP Finance Minister Arlene Foster said: "Jenny has made her decision.

"She has obviously had difficulties with the party and for what it's worth I think it's the right decision.

"I know more than most if you are not happy in a party, you leave."

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