Derek Hussey: Families angry with disqualification length

Derek Hussey
Image caption Derek Hussey is a former deputy mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council

Two families who complained about a councillor for his drink-driving convictions have said they are angry he has not been disqualified for longer.

Ulster Unionist Derek Hussey was disqualified from council for 15 months after a decision by the local government watchdog on Tuesday.

Mr Hussey has three convictions for drink-driving offences and was banned from driving for five years in 2016.

His disqualification begins on 16 July.

Martin Gallagher, whose son Martin Jr was killed by a drunk driver in 2009, said he was "not happy at all" with the sanction.

"He should have got a longer disqualification - he was caught drink-driving three times," said Mr Gallagher.

Image copyright Gallagher family
Image caption Martin Gallagher was 25 when he was killed as he returned home from Halloween celebrations in 2009

"If we hadn't taken this complaint he would still be a sitting councillor."

Derry student Robert Bradley was killed along with a friend by a drunk driver in Nottingham 18 years ago.

'Not about politics'

His father Robert Bradley said the family "feels highly insulted" that Mr Hussey was elected as Derry City and Strabane District Council's deputy mayor.

"He should have not been able to take up a senior position in council," Mr Bradley said.

"Our position is not about politics - it's about road safety and drink-driving."

"We don't want to see this happen to another family in this city."

Image caption Derek Hussey - pictured with last term's Derry Mayor John Boyle - was re-elected as a councillor in May

Derry City and Strabane District Council said it was not responsible for dealing with the complaints.

The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO), which imposed the disqualification, said it would publish its decision in writing soon.

"It will explain in more details why a 15-month disqualification was considered to be an appropriate sanction," it added.

Mr Hussey is not the first councillor to be sanctioned by NIPSO.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council member Patrick Clarke was disqualified from office for three years in 2016 after fraud and sexual assault convictions.

Mr Hussey's solicitor said he would appeal the disqualification.

Depending on the outcome, Mr Hussey may have to be replaced on Derry City and Strabane District Council and his party would have to co-opt a replacement.

He was re-elected as a councillor for the Derg area in the council election in May.

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