Ruth Patterson absent from council for past three months

Belfast City Council said Ms Patterson last attended a meeting in March this year
Brendan Hughes

HIGH-profile unionist councillor Ruth Patterson has not attended council meetings for the past three months.

The former DUP member last attended a meeting for Belfast City Council in March, according to council records.

Under local government laws, a representative ceases to be a councillor if they fail to attend any meetings for six months and their absence has not been approved by the council.

Her seat would then revert to the DUP to select a new councillor.

But on Tuesrday Ms Patterson, a councillor for the Botanic area, laughed off the possibility that she could let her seat return to the DUP.

She said her absence was simply due to "family commitments and the election".

"I do have a life outside the council – you have to get your priorities right. All being well I will be back in July," she said.

"I have three more years to serve and after that who knows what's ahead."

Last month Ms Patterson made an unsuccessful bid to be elected as an MLA for South Belfast amid a high-profile rivalry with the DUP's Emma Pengelly.

Ms Patterson had been expelled from the DUP in November after criticising the leadership for appointing Ms Pengelly as both an MLA and junior minister within the space of a month.

She stood against Ms Pengelly, a former special adviser to Peter Robinson, as an independent assembly candidate but received just 475 first preference votes.

Ms Pengelly was elected and the DUP also gained a seat in the constituency with the election of her running mate Christopher Stalford.

Loyalist flag protester turned blogger Jamie Bryson managed Ms Patterson's election campaign and said he accepted "full responsibility" for the outcome.

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