DUP to table vote of no confidence in mayor who lauded IRA bomber

Sean Bateson
Sean Bateson

The DUP group leader on Causeway Coast & Glens Council is to table a vote of no confidence in the Sinn Fein mayor, councillor Sean Bateson.

Aarron Callan has said that comments from Mr Bateson, who praised an IRA terrorist and hunger striker, mean he is not able to represent the people of the borough.

The tweet from Sean Bateson lauding IRA bomber Tom McElwee has been criticised by TUV councillor Timothy Gaston

The tweet from Sean Bateson lauding IRA bomber Tom McElwee has been criticised by TUV councillor Timothy Gaston

Cllr Callan will be tabling a motion of no confidence in the mayor, which he says will be debated at the next meeting of the council.

Mr Bateson aroused controversy earlier this week when he paid tribute to hunger striker Thomas McElwee on social media, hailing him as brave.

McElwee, from Bellaghy, was arrested after a premature explosion in an IRA attack left him with sight in just one eye. He died as he was serving 20 years in prison for a bomb attack in Ballymena that killed a 26-year-old shop worker Yvonne Dunlop.

Mr Callan said, “Cllr Bateson is supposed to be a mayor representing citizens across the borough, but his comments eulogising terrorists mean he cannot command the support of the council. As such DUP ccouncillors will be putting forward a motion of no confidence in the mayor to be debated at the next meeting of council. I will also be submitting a complaint to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards in relation to the issue.

“Thomas McElwee who Cllr Bateson was eulogising was convicted and sentenced for the murder (later reduced to manslaughter) of an innocent woman in her clothes shop in Ballymena. It is Yvonne Dunlop who we should remember, not someone who deliberately went out to destroy her property and take her life.

“Sean Bateson, like myself, was not alive during the hunger strikes or when the troubles were blighting Northern Ireland. Unfortunately he is only joining more senior Sinn Fein representatives who address parades, or dance in the street to celebrate IRA terrorists despite full knowledge of the impact their words and actions have on those who suffered at the hands of the Provisional IRA.

“There is the opportunity for Cllr Bateson to recognise the mistake he has made and to retract the comments and act in a way that respects the office of mayor and the citizens of our borough. If he does not then we believe the only option is for councillors to decide whether or not he commands the confidence of the council.”