Northern Ireland news

SDLP councillor charged with sexual assault resigns from party

Antrim and Newtownabbey councillor Brian Duffin
Brendan Hughes

AN SDLP councillor has resigned from the party after appearing in court charged with sexual assault.

Brian Duffin, who sits on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, faces one allegation of unwanted touching of a female.

The 73-year-old, of Cargin Road, Toomebridge, denies the charge.

Mr Duffin has stood down from the SDLP but it is understood he is remaining on the council as an independent.

The incident is alleged to have happened in June 2016.

The case was mentioned at Magherafelt Magistrates Court in recent weeks.

A not guilty plea was entered on January 10 and the case has since been adjourned until February 28.

Mr Duffin first became an SDLP councillor after being co-opted to replace Bobby Loughran on the old Antrim Borough Council, and was elected to the new Antrim and Newtownabbey council in 2014.

He is a director of various companies including Grow South Antrim and family business D Engineering, which offers metalworking services.

According to his profile on the SDLP website, he is originally from Moneyglass and is married with 11 grown-up children.

Mr Duffin, who represents the Dunsilly area on Antrim and Newtownabbey council, did not respond last night to requests for a comment.

In a statement the SDLP confirmed he had stood down from the party.

A spokesman said: "SDLP chairman Colin McGrath has received and accepted the resignation of councillor Brian Duffin from the SDLP pending the outcome of legal proceedings."

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council declined to say whether it has yet been informed of Mr Duffin's decision to stand down from the SDLP.

In a statement a spokeswoman said: "Councillor Brian Duffin continues in his role as a councillor with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council."

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