Northern Ireland

SDLP calls on councillor Brian Duffin to resign

Brian Duffin
Image caption Brian Duffin, formerly of the SDLP, still sits as an independent councillor

The SDLP has said one of its former members should resign his council seat immediately after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

Brian Duffin, a councillor in Antrim and Newtownabbey, resigned from the party in February, pending the outcome of the case.

However, he still sits on the council as an independent.

The 73-year-old was convicted at Antrim Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

The court heard that in June 2016 Duffin, from Cargin Road in Toomebridge, County Antrim, grabbed the then 17-year-old's breast and forced his tongue into her mouth.

Under questioning from a defence lawyer, Duffin admitted to kissing the woman on the lips but denied sexually assaulting her.

"As a councillor I have a code of conduct that I have to operate under," he told the court.

'Credible witness'

District Judge Nigel Broderick said that the victim was a "very credible witness" who had given an account that was "straightforward and credible."

The former SDLP councillor was released on bail until August 7th, and Judge Broderick said he would pass sentence once a pre-sentence probation report was ready.

Following the conviction an SDLP spokesperson said: "Mr Duffin is no longer an SDLP councillor. The party unreservedly condemn Mr Duffin's actions and he should resign his seat immediately."

The Local Government Commissioner for Standards, which is responsible for investigating and adjudicating on complaints that councillors have breached the code of conduct, said it has not received any complaints in relation to Duffin's conduct.

In a statement, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said it had no comment to make on the matter.

Duffin has yet to respond to a request from the BBC for a comment.

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