Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin defiant ahead of no-confidence vote on mayor

Sean Bateson, mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council
Mairead Holland

THE Sinn Féin mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council will not be standing down despite a no-confidence motion against him, his party has insisted.

Councillor Sean Bateson has come under fire from unionists for comments he made in August in which he described hunger striker Thomas McElwee as "brave".

The motion, which will be tabled by the DUP at a special meeting of the council tomorrow night, alleges that the Sinn Fein councillor is "glorifying terrorist criminals".

It says: "In doing so he is causing immense hurt to the victims of those whom he is eulogising. His actions are detrimental to the office of mayor and damaging to the reputation of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council."

Mr Bateson declined to comment personally but a spokesman for Sinn Féin described the motion as "yet another meaningless stunt and more petty political point scoring from unionist councillors which owes more to do with the fact there is a Westminster election in the offing".

The statement added: “The hunger strikers are held in the highest of esteem across Ireland and internationally because of their bravery and sacrifice.

“The Good Friday Agreement enshrines the right of everyone to commemorate their dead and republicans will continue to remember all the hunger strikers with dignity and respect.”

Thomas McElwee died on hunger strike while serving 20 years for a Ballymena incendiary bomb attack in which 26-year-old Yvonne Dunlop was killed in her clothes shop.

On the anniversary of Mr McElwee's death, Mr Bateson posted pictures of a memorial service in Bellaghy, tweeting: “Remembering Óglach Thomas McElwee in Bellaghy on his 38th anniversary.

“Oh gallant South Derry you are forever blessed. In the struggle for freedom you have given your best. There’s Hughes and there’s Bateson, Sheridan & Lee and inscribed with their names now brave Tom McElwee.”

The tweet by mayor Sean Bateson that has prompted the no-confidence motion

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