Belfast Telegraph

DUP in effort to force Sinn Fein mayor out over IRA killer eulogy

Defiant: Sean Bateson
Defiant: Sean Bateson

By Eimear McGovern

The DUP will table a motion of no confidence in the Sinn Fein mayor of Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council after he eulogised an IRA killer.

The DUP's councillor Aaron Callan called for Sean Bateson to resign, claiming he is not able to represent all the people of the borough following his comments. The issue will be debated at the next council meeting.

In a post on Twitter, Mr Bateson praised convicted murderer and hunger striker Thomas McElwee on the 38th anniversary of his death.

Mr Callan said: "Thomas McElwee who Cllr Bateson was eulogising was convicted and sentenced for the murder (later reduced to manslaughter) of an innocent woman in her clothes shop in Ballymena. It is Yvonne Dunlop who we should remember, not someone who deliberately went out to destroy her property and take her life.

"Sean Bateson, like myself, was not alive during the hunger strikes or when the troubles were blighting Northern Ireland. Unfortunately he is only joining more senior Sinn Fein representatives who address parades or dance in the street to celebrate IRA terrorists despite full knowledge of the impact their words and actions have on those who suffered at the hands of the Provisional IRA."

Mr Bateson responded, saying he would "continue to attend republican commemorations which honour and remember those men and women who I believe died in the cause for Irish freedom", adding: "They are held with the utmost dignity and respect."

A Sinn Fein spokesperson said: "Sean Bateson will not be standing down. The hunger strikers are held in the highest of esteem across Ireland and internationally because of their bravery and sacrifice. The Good Friday Agreement enshrines the right of everyone to commemorate their dead and republicans will continue to remember all the hunger strikers with dignity and respect."

On Thursdaynionist leader Robin Swann also called on Mr Bateson to resign.

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