DUP appoints Dale Pankhurst as new Belfast councillor

New DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst with party deputy leader Nigel Dodds
New DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst with party deputy leader Nigel Dodds

A DUP activist known for his outspoken remarks on Twitter has been selected by the party to become a new Belfast councillor.

Dale Pankhurst will replace Gareth McKee who resigned from Belfast City Council last month to take up other employment.

A Ballysillan resident and Orange bandsman, Mr Pankhurst attended Belfast Boys Model School and is a politics postgraduate student at Queen's University.

Among his online comments, Mr Pankhurst has previously defended burning Sinn Féin election posters on bonfires, saying it is "definitely not a hate crime" like IRA murders during the Troubles.

Mr Pankhurst yesterday described being appointed as a DUP representative for Oldpark as a "great honour".

"Having grown up in the area, I am deeply committed to this community and I look forward to serving the people to the utmost of my ability," he said.

"It is an honour to join the dedicated team of DUP representatives in north Belfast and I look forward to working alongside my party colleagues in this new capacity."

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds welcomed Mr Pankhurst's appointment.

"He has demonstrated a strong commitment to the local community in Oldpark and I know he will be a hard-working councillor going forward," the North Belfast MP said.

Mr Pankhurst will be the 17th co-option to Belfast City Council since the last election in 2014. The next council election is in 2019.