Apology as image of UUP woman posing with fake explosives sparks anger
A unionist politician has apologised for offending war veterans and their families after she was pictured clutching fake explosives while posing with a reveller dressed as Osama bin Laden.
The widow of a soldier killed in Afghanistan said she was appalled at Ulster Unionist councillor Carol Black's actions.
The Banbridge District Council representative uploaded pictures to her Facebook account from her sister's Halloween party at the weekend.
Images of Ms Black holding the fake bomb with the party-goer dressed as bin Laden provoked a furious backlash from some social media users.
She was accused of disrespecting the memory of soldiers who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Last night Ms Black apologised for what she said was a "lapse in judgment".
Captain Mark Hale (42) died in a bomb blast in Helmand province in August 2009 as he helped carry a wounded soldier to safety.
His widow, DUP Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale, said: "This is distasteful and utterly appalling. In a few days we will have our national commemoration for the 453 soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan yet here is an elected representative making light of the matter. It is an offence to the men and women who have gave their lives.
"Regardless of the intent, I am shocked at the disrespect not only towards the families of the bereaved and injured service personnel but also to the many innocent victims of al-Qaeda terrorist attacks.
"Planting and detonating a bomb is not something to be joked about by comedians let alone an elected politician. I understand that people can get carried away at a party but this demonstrates poor judgment."
There was also criticism online of Ms Black in posing for the pictures.
One Facebook user said: "I don't find terrorists who murdered Royal Irish Regiment funny.
"I'm a big joker but certain things are outside my comfort zone and Black is now on that list."
Another hit out at the timing of the pictures, in the run-up to Remembrance Day.
"This was a lapse in judgement on my behalf and I sincerely apologise for any offence caused," Ms Black said last night.
"I fully support our armed forces and would in no way intentionally seek to cause offence to anyone whether they are veterans, their families, the wider community or members of my own family who currently serve in Her Majesty's forces."
Jamie Bryson also came in for criticism after a picture was posted online of the outspoken loyalist protester alongside another man dressed in a Nazi SS uniform.
The image was posted on Bryson's Twitter account yesterday with the message: "Happy Halloween. Good night with the troops."
- In 2005, Prince Harry apologised for wearing a swastika armband to a friend's fancy dress party.
- Earlier this year Ulster Rugby apologised after a photograph showing four of their players with their faces and bodies coloured with black makeup appeared on a social media site.
- There was controversy after two children were dressed up as 'Peru Two', Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum.