Northern Ireland news

Alliance councillor apologises for drink-driving conviction

Alliance councillor Patrick Brown. Picture by Mal McCann
Brendan Hughes

AN ALLIANCE councillor has "apologised profusely" and said he referred himself to the local government standards watchdog after being convicted of drink-driving.

Patrick Brown, a representative on Newry, Mourne and Down council, pleaded guilty in court after being caught riding his motorbike while under the influence of alcohol last year.

The 25-year-old said yesterday he wanted to apologise profusely "to all those I have let down" and warned others "never to take such a risk".

"After a night out with friends, I came home and foolishly decided to take my motorbike out. Police pulled me over after the first corner and I fully cooperated with them. I am glad no-one was hurt as a result of my stupidity," he said in a statement.

"I deeply regret this momentary error of judgement and realise what a serious mistake it was. I apologise profusely to all those I have let down. I make no excuses for my actions and fully accept I was at fault.

"I have learned from the experience, will never repeat it and I am using the matter to warn other people never to take such a risk."

The incident happened on Ballynahatty Road outside Belfast on March 5 2017, just days after the Stormont assembly election in which Mr Brown was Alliance's candidate for South Down.

Mr Brown, of Linen Mill Grove in Belfast, appeared in July at Laganside courthouse where he was fined £250 and ordered to pay a £15 offender levy.

He was also disqualified from driving for a year but this was reduced by three months in December after he completed a drink-drive offenders' course.

Mr Brown said: "I have continued throughout this period to work on behalf of all my constituents and referred myself voluntarily to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards, as I hold myself to the same high standards I always have done."

The Alliance Party said its disciplinary committee considered the matter and "further disciplinary sanctions were applied".

"Patrick made the party fully aware of this matter when it occurred and it was immediately referred to the party's disciplinary committee," a spokesman said.

"With the support of the party, Patrick has also referred himself to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards.

"The party takes this matter and indeed all instances of drink-driving incredibly seriously. Patrick has fully acknowledged the gravity of the mistake he has made, and expressed his distress and full remorse."

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