One PUP council candidate has attracted unwanted attention after it emerged that he had suggested bombing the offices of the BBC and UTV.
Carrickfergus candidate Gareth Cole made the comment in a 2011 posting on his Facebook page. After accusing the media of bias, he said: “it high time we blow utv and newsline up the fenion lovin b******s [sic]”.
The following day, in an apparent reference to paramilitarism, he said: “home to gt my balaclava ironed [sic]”, and he later joked about burning Sinn Fein councillor Niall O’Donnghaile.
Asked if that was the sort of face which he wanted his party to portray to the public, Mr Hutchinson highlighted the age of the comments and added: “I’ve had three years to work with and develop Gareth and I believe that Gareth’s position now is not the position that he said in 2011, and my position in 2014 is not the position that I held in 1973.
“I might have taken longer to get there than Gareth but I’m happy that Gareth is the right candidate; I’m happy that having sat with Gareth in workshops and training that Gareth’s attitude and his opinions as to how we move forward are totally different to what they were in 2011.”
He added: “Gareth is no longer the angry young man because he now realises politics is the way forward.”