Belfast Telegraph

DUP councillor given policing role despite calling PSNI 'pure scum'

Collins back in spotlight for all the wrong reasons

DUP councillor Marc Collins with DUP leader Arlene Foster. Credit: Sunday Life
DUP councillor Marc Collins with DUP leader Arlene Foster. Credit: Sunday Life

By David O'Dornan

A controversial DUP councillor who called the PSNI "pure scum" has been handed a role on his local Policing and Community Safety Partnership.

Sources at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council were shocked to hear that Marc Collins - who also branded officers "scumbags" after they mounted antisocial behaviour operations in his area five years ago - had landed a reserve position on the panel.

When nominations were sought earlier this month, four councillors - the DUP's John Carson, TUV's Timothy Gaston, Alliance's Danny Donnelly and John McDermott from the UUP - were selected.

When it came to choosing reserves, DUP Alderman the Rev Paul Reid backed a proposal from Timothy Gaston that the DUP's Gregg McKeen be nominated and added: "I'm quite happy to second that last proposal and I also propose councillor Marc Collins."

In June 2014, following a BBC Spotlight documentary that scrutinised the PSNI, Collins questioned why loyalists anywhere would trust the police.

"What about the demonisation of band members, loyal orders and peaceful protesters ... unfortunately we have to suffer this unruly mob as a 'police force'. So much for 'To Serve and Protect'. Scumbags," he wrote online.

In another dig at the cops, he questioned why they decided to take drink off people following a loyalist parade in Carrickfergus.

"Great crowds, some great bands and great weather, what more can you ask for? My only wish is that the PSNI would use their time and resources more sensibly," he posted.

"Three meat wagons full of officers to take a few bottles of beer off band members and spectators enjoying their day out? Pure scum."

After Collins was elected for the Knockagh area of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, he issued a grovelling apology for previous posts and admitted he was "embarrassed" by their sectarian and racist content, stressing they did not represent his views today.

As revealed by Sunday Life in April this year, these entries featured racism and offensive references to Catholics and Sinn Fein politicians.

One post in February 2011 read: "Yo c**n features, what time you getting back from the fenian valleys?"

In another, in March that year, he described ex-Sinn Fein Education Minister Caitriona Ruane as a "dirty wheure (sic)", writing: "Silly bitch was at the awards ceremony and had to shake her hand. Dirty inbred fenian wench shouldn't have been out of the kitchen in the first place. Happy Hibernians day! Hopefully all the taigs enjoy their parades LOL jk (just kidding) hopefully they all drop dead (followed by a smiley face)."

Collins also engaged in an exchange about what appeared to be a visit to a hospital, making sectarian and racist remarks about a number of children.

"There were five kids and we established that at least one was a taig, one was a Pole and one had a tribe of gypsies at its bedside, so we were in good company."

In April this year, he apologised for the posts, saying: "Most of these comments were made when I was 16 years old. I'm embarrassed by them. They do not represent my views today and I recognise they were wholly unacceptable.

"I apologise to the people offended by them and apologise generally for making them.

"I've just been elected as a councillor. I will represent everyone and seek to give leadership to build a shared future for the next generation.

"I oppose all forms of bigotry or racism. We share this land and we are all the same, regardless of religion or skin colour. I will ask the people to judge me on my work going forward rather than ill-judged comments made when I was much younger."

Policing and Community Partnerships have a range of duties set in legislation. They consult and engage with local people on issues related to policing and safety.

Part of their role is to monitor the performance of the PSNI and work to gain the cooperation of the public in the prevention of crime.

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