Northern Ireland news

Council to carry out review after concerns raised over alleged leaks

A sign on the main road on the approach to the port town of Larne port in Co Antrim protesting against an Irish Sea border
Connla Young

MID and East Antrim council has confirmed it will carry out a review after concerns were raised over alleged leaking of confidential information around a decision to withdraw staff from Brexit checks at Larne port.

The decision came after a question was tabled by TUV councillor Timothy Gaston at a meeting earlier this week.

Mr Gaston had initially singled out Alliance councillor Danny Donnelly and Sinn Féin's James McKeown ahead of the meeting.

Both councillors have been prominent in highlighting concerns over the council's decision to withdraw staff from inspection duties at Larne port last month.

Mr Gaston's original question had asked council chief executive Anne Donaghy "to place on the next meeting agenda of council a report which considers referring Cllr McKeown and Cllr Donnelly to the ombudsman regarding the alleged leaking of confidential information to the press over recent weeks, the obvious tensions this created and the reputational damage inflicted on our borough as a result".

However, the question was later revised and the councillors names were removed.

A spokesman for the council last night said: "A review will take place on any confidential information placed into the public domain.”

Mr Donnelly said "any allegations of leaking confidential information are absolutely rejected and totally refuted".

Mr McKeown did not wish to make a comment.

Hours after council staff were withdrawn from Brexit checks in Larne, former DUP agriculture minister Edwin Poots also pulled out department staff in Larne, Belfast and Warrenpoint.

It followed the appearance of threatening graffiti in Larne and claims that car registrations had been taken down.

Police have said there was no evidence that loyalist paramilitary groups were behind the graffiti or that registrations had been recorded.

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