Belfast Telegraph

How many more scandals will DUP tolerate? asks ex-councillor Palmer

By Adrian Rutherford

An ex-DUP councillor has written to members of her former party asking how many more scandals they will tolerate.

In an open letter, Jenny Palmer hit out at the DUP's "dark core". She urged members not to stay silent in the face of mounting public anger at the Renewable Heat Incentive debacle.

In a direct appeal, Mrs Palmer wrote: "Ask yourself, and answer honestly, how many times have you been told that someone will vote for you in spite of your political party?

"How many times have you had an awkward conversation with a voter or constituent who said, 'I know you, I like you. I don't like the DUP'.

"I know, because I used to get the same. I used to get people telling me that while they valued the contribution I made to public life, they were horrified by the behaviour of the upper echelons of the DUP."

Mrs Palmer left the DUP after accusing the party of failing to address claims that she was pressurised by a party special adviser in relation to a furore around social housing contracts.

The former Lisburn councillor joined the UUP and was elected as an Assembly member for Lagan Valley last May.

She urged DUP members: "Ask yourself another question; how many more scandals?"

Her letter continued: "I know that many of you are uneasy sharing power with Sinn Fein, but that is part and parcel of how Government must be done here in reality. But the scandals aren't."

She added: "If you stay silent, you give your implicit consent for the people responsible to get away with this. You alone at this moment have the power to say to those people 'no'. The voters will have their chance in a few years, if not sooner, but at this moment in time, almost no pressure from opposition or the media will have the same impact as you standing up and saying to the party 'no more'.

"I know, because I did it. I know what power even a councillor can have by just publicly saying 'this is wrong'.

"I understand your reluctance. I know how terrifying it is to go against the juggernaut of the party apparatus. That deep, sleep-preventing fear of 'what if I do it'. That fear that you'll lose friends, you'll lose income, you might even lose your career. I know, because I went through it.

"I won't lie to you, it might happen. I lost friends. I lost income. It didn't end my career because I have the backing of the voters and my new party, but there were no guarantees.

"But I had to do it, even if my crusade was a lonely one. It was the right thing to do then, and you know that it is the right thing to do now."

She added: "I want to close with a few words the late Dr Paisley shared with me when I was going through my own purgatory. He said, 'keep the faith, Jenny'. If you know that what is happening is wrong, speak up.

"If they dare to try to attack you for speaking the truth, I believe that you will be rewarded as I have been."

by adrian rutherford

Belfast Telegraph

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