A Dungannon councillor who voted in favour of a motion to free Gerry McGeough, who was convicted of attempting to murder fellow councillor Samuel Brush in 1981, may have got it wrong, his party colleague has said.
The SDLP’s Mid Ulster candidate Patsy McGlone, who currently sits in the Assembly and is a member of the Justice Committee, admitted the vote taken by Patsy Daly was a sensitive one and suggested it may not have been the right one.
When questioned on the subject during a live News Letter webchat Mr McGlone said the motion - calling for the release of McGeough who shot postman Brush as he delivered a letter to a house in Aughnacloy - should never have been brought at council level in the first place.
He added that it put councillor Daly in “a difficult position”.
He said: “I understand the sentiments of Samuel Brush as an individual and others tried to play politics with this (motion). If on occasion one or two of our councillors maybe get that wrong that’s for the party to take charge of.”
When pressed on the issue Mr McGlone - who faces unionist unity candidate Nigel Lutton, Sinn Fein’s Francie Molloy and Eric Bullick of the Alliance party in the election - said: “It was one councillor and I’ve had a chat with him since it.”
Responding to the comments Mr Brush said he welcomed the change in attitude.
Speaking on the morning a new Unionist party was unveiled, with founders John McCallister and Basil McCrea claiming they want to attract Catholic voters, Mr McGlone said he feels the new party’s creation is a positive move, and of no threat to the SDLP.
“I have tremendous respect for as people you can sit down, have a chat with, on the basis of respect,” he said. “I don’t think either Basil or John will be taking votes from me, I would know that for a fact.”
On other issues the Assembly member said he remains fully supportive of the SDLP councillors who voted to have the Union flag flown only on designated days from City Hall.
On the campaign trail he said he has been speaking to voters who are disillusioned with both Sinn Fein and the Unionist offering.
“On one side people are fed up with flag protests and on the other side they are totally disappointed with an ill-conceived and ill-timed border poll. What people want is a future, for their children and themselves.”