Northern Ireland

Criticism after convicted drink-driver Derek Hussey returns to council duties

Former Derry and Strabane Council deputy mayor Derek Hussey. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Former Derry and Strabane Council deputy mayor Derek Hussey. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

THE FAMILY of a man killed by a drink-driver has criticised the reappointment of an Ulster Unionist councillor who has three convictions for driving while over the limit.

Veteran Derek Hussey is due to return to Derry City and Strabane District Council after a 15-month disqualification from local government for his latest drink-driving conviction.

The former deputy mayor had been replaced by Andy Kane after the local government standards watchdog disqualified Mr Hussey in July last year for breaching the councillors' code of conduct.

Mr Hussey has three convictions for drink-driving offences and was banned from driving for five years in 2016.

He will officially return to the council from tomorrow.

But the family of man killed by a drink-driver, whose campaigning led to Mr Hussey being sanctioned, has criticised his return to council duties.

Martin Gallagher, whose son Martin Jr was knocked down and killed in 2009, said he could not understand the decision.

He called on Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken to intervene.

"I can't understand it – a man has been been convicted three times for drunk driven can just hop on the board again," he told the BBC.

"It was only by the grace of God that he didn't kill anybody."

An Ulster Unionist spokesman said Mr Hussey had been co-opted to council following Mr McKane's decision to step aside.

"In July 2019 councillor Hussey was disqualified from council for 15 months for previous drink drive convictions," the spokesman said.

"He has apologised profusely and continues to express remorse for his actions."

The spokesman said Mr Hussey "will focus on doing his best to represent all the people of the Derg District Electoral Area".

Mr McKane told the he was legally entitled to remain a councillor until the next election but that stepping aside was the "honourable thing" to do.

"I am conscious that I was not elected to the seat and it may be the opinion of some that I took something that wasn't mine," he said.