Northern Ireland news

Padraig McShane refuses to take part in council tricolour probe

Causeway Coast and Glens councillor Padraig McShane was pictured with Derry and Strabane councillors Gary Donnelly and Darren O'Reilly and Gaza official Mohammed Al-Halabi in the council chamber in Coleraine
Connla Young

A CO Antrim councillor has refused to take part in an investigation launched after a tricolour was draped over a table in a council chamber.

Causeway Coast and Glens independent councillor Padraig McShane has snubbed the probe by the Local Government Commissioner for Standards.

It was launched following a complaint about Mr McShane’s conduct.

There was controversy last year when photographs emerged of a tricolour and Palestinian flag draped over a bench in the debating chamber of the council’s Coleraine headquarters.

Mr McShane, along with Derry independent councillors Gary Donnelly and Darren O'Reilly, were pictured sitting behind the flags with Gaza official Mohamed Al-Halabi.

A straw-filled effigy of Mr McShane, based on the photograph, was later placed on a loyalist bonfire in Bushmills with a red target on its head.

Councillors found to have breached their code of conduct can face a “sanction, suspension or disqualification for a period for up to five years”, while minor breaches can be dealt with by “alternative action such as an apology, training or registration of an interest”.

Northern Ireland Ombudsman officials have warned Mr McShane that failure to comply with the local government commissioner's requests could also amount to a breach.

But Mr McShane said on Tuesday night he has no intention of taking part in the investigation.

“It’s an attempt to de-legitimise identity and an attempt to confirm a make-believe state,” he claimed.

“The very fact they are questioning flying the flag of Ireland at a private event in the council chamber while the Union flag flies outside the building beggars belief."

A spokeswoman for the ombudsman confirmed a complaint has been received but said legislation prevents any further information being revealed.

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