Political news

Jonathan Bell's sister-in-law resigns from DUP after deselection

Antrim and Newtownabbey councillor Pamela Barr has resigned from the DUP

A sister-in-law of former Stormont minister Jonathan Bell has resigned from the DUP weeks after being deselected as a candidate in the local government elections.

Pamela Barr, who has represented the DUP on Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council since 2001, said the party's current leadership made her membership "untenable".

She was deselected as a candidate for the May 2 council elections last month but may still stand as an independent.

Ms Barr publicly backed her brother-in-law when he ran as an independent in the 2017 assembly election, subsequently losing the Strangford seat he had held for seven years since succeeding Iris Robinson.

Mr Bell, who was Stormont enterprise minister during the closure of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), fell out spectacularly with the DUP during the height of public outcry over the botched green energy scheme.

In her resignation statement yesterday, Ms Barr said: "It is with great sadness that after 20 years of membership and 18 years as an elected representative, that I wish to tender my resignation from the DUP.

"I have been both disappointed and hurt by the recent actions of some and whilst I have been heartened by the private messages of support from party colleagues, I feel that under the current leadership my position in the party has become untenable."

The former DUP councillor confirmed she is considering running as an independent.

At the time of Ms Barr's deselection the DUP said its selection process for the local government election had been very competitive.

A spokesman said yesterday: "We are disappointed that she (Ms Barr) has decided to take this step but wish her well for the future."

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