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DUP councillor apologises for posing in picture with tricolour on bonfire

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Row: James and Margaret Tinsley

Row: James and Margaret Tinsley

Row: James and Margaret Tinsley

The outgoing deputy mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council has issued an apology nine months after being pictured at a loyalist bonfire as an Irish tricolour burned in the background.

Margaret Tinsley had been attending the Edenderry bonfire near Portadown on July 1 last year with her husband, Lisburn and Castlereagh DUP councillor James Tinsley.

At the time the DUP said Mrs Tinsley was not attending the event in her capacity as deputy mayor.

Yesterday - nine months on - she said sorry, adding that she was unaware of the burning tricolour in the background.

In a lengthy social media post, she wrote: "On Monday July 1 2019, I posted a series of photographs on my Facebook page. Included in one of the photographs was a burning flag.

"I can honestly say I was totally unaware of the burning flag when making the Facebook post. I accept that the photograph containing this image was offensive, disrespectful and inappropriate and for this I am sincerely sorry.

"Contrary to my intentions, my actions in posting the photograph detracted from the genuine acknowledgment I had wished to make of the progressive efforts of those who had worked hard to keep the area tidy leading up to the event and in ensuring the bonfire was safe on the evening.

"I have the utmost respect for the politically neutral position of the mayor's office. I have thoroughly enjoyed my year as Deputy Lord Mayor and I have been welcomed by everyone in every part of the community.

"I will continue to work for the whole of the community, serving everyone with respect and dignity, for the remainder of my term of office. I will, in future, think more carefully about my social media posts ensuring they are in keeping with the Local Government Commissioner for Standards' Guidance on the use of social media and the code of conduct for local government councillors."

At the time Sinn Fein said the photograph posted by Mrs Tinsley was "deeply offensive" and a "hate display", with councillor Keith Haughian calling on the DUP leadership to discipline Mrs Tinsley.

"The deputy mayor is supposed to represent everyone in the borough, but glorifying this type of activity is deeply offensive to large sections of our society," he said.

Belfast Telegraph