ALLIANCE Councillor Tom Ekin has accused DUP councillor Ruth Patterson of “gross hypocrisy” after she invited representatives of parties linked to loyalist paramilitaries to her swearing in as High Sheriff of Belfast.
Cllr Patterson refused to invite Sinn Fein representatives, but justified inviting the loyalist representatives on the grounds that “I don’t know if these politicians are inextricably linked to loyalist paramilitary groups. But I know for sure that Sinn Fein is inextricably linked to the IRA.” (South Belfast News, 24 January, although it is published today.)
Cllr Ekin said: “This is gross hypocrisy yet again from the DUP. They constantly claim they will have nothing to do with parties linked to terrorism, yet Cllr Patterson has no problems inviting representatives from parties linked to the UVF and UDA.
“This lack of consistency is rarely challenged, and it is about time that the DUP explained its position, and whether its policy is based on sectarian grounds.
“For Cllr Patterson to say that she doesn’t know if the PUP and UPRG members are linked to loyalist paramilitaries is both dishonest and astonishing. At least politicians like David Ervine and Frank McCoubrey are trying to move things forward and have had the honesty to admit their parties have a relationship with the UVF and UDA.
“If Cllr Patterson is prepared to invite David Ervine and Frank McCoubrey to her event, there is no good reason why she cannot invite Sinn Fein.”