Belfast Telegraph

UUP councillor avoids investigation over SF ‘ethnic cleansing’ jibe

By Gillian Halliday

A UUP councillor who was reported to a standards watchdog for making a ethnic cleansing jibe against Sinn Fein will not face investigation, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

The Local Government Commissioner for Standards said yesterday no action will be taken against Arnold Hatch, who sits on Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

Mr Hatch had accused Sinn Fein in the past of "trying to cleanse Protestants out of the country" at a council meeting in September 2018.

Last month he was reported to the watchdog for making the remark during a debate over a Sinn Fein proposed notice of motion over the impact of Brexit on businesses and agriculture.

Mr Hatch proclaimed it was "ironic" that Sinn Fein had brought forward the motion, adding it had in the past "targeted business owners and farming families and tried to cleanse Protestants out of this country".

His remark was recorded in official minutes of the meeting. A spokesperson for the watchdog said following its assessment, it will not be taking the complaint any further. "We received a complaint about alleged comments made at a meeting of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council on September 24, 2018," they said.

"The complaint has been assessed and it has been decided that it should not be referred for investigation."

The decision has been welcomed by the UUP, which said it was "not surprised" Mr Hatch would not be facing an investigation.

"Sinn Fein seem to believe that the rest of world should just meekly accept the murderous past of the republican movement without question," said a spokesperson.

Accusing Sinn Fein of expecting others to engage in its "whitewash" of the "crimes committed by the IRA", as Sinn Fein retains "the right to proudly stand at numerous commemorations for IRA bombers and gunmen, lauding these masked cowards as some kind of heroes", they stressed the UUP would continue to "not shirk from reminding the world of the wholly unjustifiable trail of death and destruction visited upon this country by these self-same terrorists".

"If Sinn Fein cannot handle the truth, then so be it," they added.

Sinn Fein did not respond to a request for comment.

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