SHEILA McQuaid has defended her position after the DUP hit out at her for saying Brendan Curran was ‘entitled to his opinion’ after his remarks about the Troubles in the Leader.
Councillor Jim McElroy has also, once again, called on Councillor Curran to ‘rethink and apologise’ for his comments, when he described the Troubles were ‘necessary’.
Councillor McQuaid said that she while she was not speaking for the Sinn Fein representative, and would not in any case, she would uphold his right to freedom of speech.
In a letter to the Leader Councillor McElroy said, “We may all want to move on but we cannot forget our past, or permit others to re-write that past.
“Councillor Curran indeed may entitled to his personal views but to espouse those views in the local press has caused much hurt and offence, especially to the victims of terrorism and I am disappointed that the Alliance member did not make the point that elected representatives should be careful, responsible and sensitive when expressing personal views in a public arena.”
Responding, the Alliance councillor said, “Within a democracy people have the right to freedom of speech and as I get older I have come to realise how lucky we are to have that right.
“I respect that the DUP have strong feelings about these issues, as do Sinn Fein and although they might not agree with them both sides need to respect them.
Of her own position she said, “The DUP have to learn that, as I have have done in the past, I will support them and propose motions if I feel if it is right and if I don’t then I won’t. I won’t be brow beaten into anything.”
Councillor McElroy continued in his letter that he felt that many Unionists would ‘think again’ before transferring their votes to the Alliance Party, reminding Councillor McQuaid that it was those very tranfers which got her elected in the first place in 2011.
She said, “I told the electorate in Banbridge in 2011 that I would represent every one of them, whether they were black or white, Protestant or Catholic, and I stand by that now.
“The DUP motion was passed, let’s move on. If they want respect they have to earn that and to do that they need to listen to everyone’s views. I will listen to everyone’s views, no matter who they are.”
Referring back to the council meeting discussing the motion requesting Councillor Curran to apologise two weeks ago, in which she was the only member to vote against to the 12 in favour, Councillor McQuaid said that she would like to apologise to the electorate for losing her temper during the debate.
She had become angry during the debate when she had been overlooke for an opportunity to speak on the motion, saying she had been ignored and asking was it “some sort of hanging Unionist gather-up against someone who spoke about something in the past.
Meanwhile in his letter Councillor McElroy once again reiterated his call for the Sinn Fein member to say sorry.
“Councillor Curran’s refusal to apologise has compounded the hurt and offence his comments have caused to many victims and the district and damaged the prospect of increasing good and harmonious working relationships within the council,” he said.
“I would again call upon Councillor Curran to re-think his position and apologise for his comments in the press.”