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DUP's outspoken councillor Ruth Patterson never far from controversy

Ruth Patterson wearing a Linfield scarf in the city council chamber
Ruth Patterson wearing a Linfield scarf in the city council chamber

By Deborah McAleese

DUP firebrand Ruth Patterson is never far from the headlines.

An elected member of Belfast City Council for 14 years, the former nurse regularly lives up to her reputation for controversy.

She even lost her job with a cancer charity when she was arrested for comments she posted on social media in 2013. The charges were later dropped.

The South Belfast councillor sparked outrage in August when she attended a loyalist parade through the Ormeau Road area honouring notorious UDA members linked to sectarian murders during the Troubles.

Last March a meeting of the council descended into farce when the 59-year-old donned a Linfield football club scarf as she proposed an event at City Hall to recognise the achievements of Linfield manager David Jeffrey. Her choice of clothing antagonised the Sinn Fein group leader on the council Jim McVeigh - and the level of debate swiftly deteriorated into bad-tempered accusations.

In August 2013 she was arrested and charged with sending a grossly offensive electronic communication.

She had commented on Facebook about an imaginary attack in which marchers at a controversial republican parade, including Sinn Fein figures, are killed.

The charge was withdrawn in December 2013 after she was given an informed warning by police.

Mrs Patterson later apologised for her comments and said that she was guilty of "a lapse of judgment".

In May 2011, when she was deputy lord mayor, she caused controversy when she snubbed the newly elected Sinn Fein lord mayor Niall O Donnghaile at a Belfast council meeting.

Mr O Donnghaile offered his congratulations to Mrs Patterson but she did not acknowledge him.

Throughout all the controversy, Mrs Patterson has maintained strong support from the electorate and her party.

Belfast Telegraph


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