A long-serving DUP councillor who is the sister-in-law of former Stormont minister Jonathan Bell has been deselected as a candidate for the party ahead of May’s council elections.
Pamela Barr, who sits on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council for the Macedon ward, took to social media last night to comment on her deselection.
“Difficult post to write, but I have not been selected to run as a DUP candidate in the council elections in May, for reasons best left unsaid,” she posted.
“I do, however, still firmly believe that families should stick together in times of despair and hurt and I believe that I can end my 18 years’ service with my head held high. Thank you to those in the party that have supported me and encouraged me over the past two years.
“Your friendship will never be forgotten.”
She added: “Wishing you every success in May. Signing off now to spend some time with my family and accept that some things are not meant to be x.”
Ms Barr’s brother-in-law, the former Strangford DUP MLA, broke party ranks in December 2016 to make a series of explosive claims about the Renewable Heat Incentive ‘cash for ash’ scandal.
He alleged that attempts had been made by the party to keep the financially flawed scheme open for an extra two weeks against his wishes, during which time there was a rush of applications.
He also accused the DUP of “fitting him up”. Party leader Arlene Foster later accused Mr Bell of pressing “the nuclear button” and helping to bring down power-sharing. His claims led to a public inquiry into the RHI scandal, which is expected to cost the public purse hundreds of millions of pounds.
Mr Bell later stood for election in 2017 as an independent candidate after separating from the DUP in a move that was backed by his sister-in-law.
“Support you 100%,” she told him in a tweet at the time.
She also posted a similar message on her Facebook account, in which she wrote: “I support Jonathan 100%.”
Mr Bell’s wife Lisa is Mrs Barr’s sister.
Mrs Barr, who is a mother-of-two and a teacher, did not respond to a request for comment last night.
Friends took to Twitter to offer their support to her.
“Their loss. Maybe they aren’t the party you thought they were. Take a time out and consider your options x,” said one.