Northern Ireland

DUP councillor Ruth Patterson apologises for parade comments

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Media captionDUP councillor Ruth Patterson has apologised for comments she made about a planned republican parade in County Tyrone

A DUP councillor has apologised for comments she made about a planned republican parade in County Tyrone.

Ruth Patterson said she was guilty of "a lapse of judgement".

In a conversation on Facebook, she had responded to someone else's post about an imaginary attack on the parade in Castlederg in which several people including Sinn Féin figures are killed.

She had said: "We would have done a great service to Northern Ireland and the world."

In her apology, Mrs Patterson said her comments were "completely incompatible with the polices of the Democratic Unionist Party and what is expected of me as an elected representative.

'Utterly disgraceful'

"I recognise that my careless comments fall short of the standards expected of anyone holding a responsible post. I deeply and sincerely apologise."

A DUP spokesman said the party officers would "be looking at the issue but taking into account councillor Patterson's apology".

Speaking on Radio Ulster, DUP MLA and minister Arlene Foster said both she and her party viewed Mrs Patterson's remarks as "utterly disgraceful" and said the DUP would take action "in due course".

The Facebook page has been deleted.

Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff described the comments made by Mrs Patterson as "shocking".

"This type of talk is totally irresponsible and highly dangerous," he said.

"As has been shown in the past, comments made by political representatives and others can not only inflame a situation, but actually motivate people to act on their words."

'Grossly insensitive'

The Castlederg parade, planned for 11 August, commemorates Tyrone's republican dead, including two IRA members killed by their own bomb in 1973. The march is backed by Sinn Féin.

However, unionists have described the parade as "grossly insensitive" and say it should not be allowed to go ahead.

On Thursday evening, the Parades Commission ruled the Castlederg parade could take place, but it placed restrictions on the march, re-routing it away from a war memorial in the Diamond area of the town.

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