The new Newry, Mourne and Down supercouncil has defended its Sinn Fein chairwoman after she attended an IRA commemoration event.
Unionists were angered when Sinn Fein councillor Naomi Bailie attended an Easter Sunday republican parade in Newry wearing her council chain of office.
DUP councillor William Walker claimed the move breached the impartiality of her office and is tabling a motion of no confidence, while Ms Bailie insisted her actions were entirely proper.
However, the new council has firmly defended Ms Bailey’s actions.
“As chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Councillor Naomi Bailie received an official invitation from the Newry 1916 Easter Commemoration Association to attend the annual Easter commemoration in Newry on Easter Sunday,” a council spokeswoman said. “The chairperson is entitled to wear the chain of office at all such events where an invitation has been received. As far as I am aware this council does not, at this present time, have any official written guidelines which govern conduct of mayors/chairs.”
However, UKIP councillor Henry Reilly hit out at the council’s response: “So what happens if the Billy Wright memorial command of the south Down branch of the UVF appreciation society invites her – will she attend and wear the chain of office? What she did was wrong – simple as that.”