Northern Ireland news

DUP councillor criticised after 'PIRA mouthpiece' slur

Councillor Graham Craig with DUP leader Arlene Foster

AN ALLIANCE activist has sought legal advice after a Belfast DUP councillor accused her of speaking on behalf of republican paramilitaries.

Councillor Graham Craig, who defected to Arlene Foster's party from the Ulster Unionists in 2016, has since deleted the controversial social media posting targetting Sorcha Eastwood.

Ms Eastwood, Alliance's West Belfast candidate in last year's Westminster election, said she could take the "cut and thrust" of politics but accused Mr Craig of "crossing the line".

The Botanic ward councillor reacted to a post Ms Eastwood had made about the Ballymurphy massacre victims.

Fresh from speaking at the Ballymurphy March for Truth rally on Sunday, she said she voiced "solidarity" with the families of the 1972 massacre's victims and survivors.

Yesterday Ms Eastwood again took to twitter with a screenshot of Mr Craig's contentious tweet and said: "I don't mind the cut and thrust of politics and I put up with a fair amount, but I draw the line at Graham Craig, a DUP Councillor referring to me as a 'mouthpiece for the PIRA' – it's defamatory, dangerous and totally crosses a line."

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long tweeted to the DUP councillor asking him to delete the tweet and apologise.

An Alliance spokesman said the DUP had questions to answer over the tweet, adding: "We expect a full retraction and apology from Councillor Graham Craig for this outrageous, dangerous and defamatory comment."

Ms Eastwood said yesterday that the matter was now her solicitor and that she wouldn't be commenting further.

The DUP did not comment.

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