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Vote of no confidence in SF councillor being ignored, claims DUP

Criticised: Sean Bateson
Criticised: Sean Bateson

By Mairead Holland

Sinn Fein must acknowledge the offence caused by a mayor who described a convicted murderer as "brave", a DUP councillor has insisted.

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough representative Aaron Callan was speaking yesterday after the council passed a motion of no-confidence in its mayor Sean Bateson at a meeting on Thursday night.

The motion accused the Sinn Fein councillor of "glorifying terrorist criminals".

In a tweet in August, Mr Bateson posted pictures and comments in reference to a service commemorating Thomas McElwee.

Mr McElwee died on hunger strike while serving 20 years for a Ballymena incendiary bomb attack in which 26-year-old Yvonne Dunlop was killed.

The motion was tabled by Mr Callan and was supported by 17 other unionist councillors.

However, the vote is non-binding and Sinn Fein has insisted that Mr Bateson will not step down.

Mr Callan said: "This motion was initially tabled over six weeks ago but the offence caused by councillor Bateson's comments has not diminished over that time.

"The mayor should be a leader of the borough and someone able to command respect right across our community.

"Councillor Bateson's refusal and that of his party to acknowledge the offence caused have only served to bring the post of mayor into disrepute."

He said the message of no-confidence in the mayor must now apply to the whole party.

Mr Callan added: "While it appears Sinn Fein will attempt to ignore this democratic vote of council they cannot escape the message that was sent out by council.

"Their refusal to even acknowledge the problem means the message of no-confidence must extend right across that party."

Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane, the party's group leader, said the meeting was "pointless and a waste of money".

"Sean Bateson is the mayor as a result of Sinn Fein's electoral mandate and he will continue to be the mayor," she said.

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