Northern Ireland news

DUP remains silent over 'vile' comments on asylum seekers by party councillor

Mid and East Antrim councillor Marc Collins

THE DUP is maintaining its silence over controversial remarks made by a party councillor about a group of asylum seekers in Carrickfergus.

The party has also not signed an online petition launched on Friday in response to what have branded "vile" comments made by Marc Collins in relation to 30 asylum seekers housed in the Loughshore Hotel in the Co Antrim town.

Politicians including Alliance leader Naomi Long, SDLP MP Claire Hanna, Green Party leader Clare Bailey and People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll as well as a number of councillors are among over 1,300 signatories* to the Amnesty International (NI) petition.

The DUP was contacted for comment yesterday and asked if party leaders had censured Mr Collins about his views.

The Mid and East Antrim councillor caused outrage after querying why the asylum seekers were being temporarily housed in Carrickfergus, if they had received Covid vaccinations, and why "working class families who are struggling to stay above the breadline" could not be given free food and drink.

"I can already see the claims of racism that are going to come my way but that's not what this is about at all," he said.

The asylum seekers are expected to stay at the hotel for several months.

Hundreds have reacted to his Facebook post both in support of the comments and opposed.

Amnesty called on political leaders and particularly the First Minister and deputy First Minister speak out.

"Silence is not an option when leadership is needed," the group said.

Amnesty also called on police to "ensure that the safety of asylum-seekers temporarily resident in Carrickfergus to go about their lives without fear of harassment or intimidation"

* the figure of Amnesty petition was corrected to more than 1,300 from 700

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news