A Ulster Unionist councillor caught drink driving for a third time says he is prepared to meet the families of those killed on the roads.
Derek Hussey made the offer after he was given a five-year motoring ban at Enniskillen Magistrates Court this week.
The conviction was the 67-year-old’s third in just over a decade for drinking and driving.
A one-time Assembly member, Derek Hussey was first before the courts in 2004. He was back in the dock again in 2011 after crashing his vehicle when almost twice the legal limit.
The latest prosecution was brought following a two vehicle collision on the Drumquin Road, Castlederg, on September 16 last year.
Guilty pleas had already been entered to driving with excess alcohol in blood, careless driving and failing to report an accident ahead of Tuesday’s hearing.
As well as the five year motoring ban, Derek Hussey was fined £800 and ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work.
Speaking following his sentencing, the former schoolteacher said he was deeply remorseful for what had happened. He also said he realised his actions could have had fatal consequences and said he would be prepared to meet the families of those killed by drunk drivers.
“I totally regret what happened and I am totally remorseful for the hurt I have caused to so many people,” Derek Hussey said.
“I could have been that person. A member of my family could have been on the other side of this and I would say that if any family wants to meet me face to face then I would be happy to do that.”
Ahead of the latest court proceedings, the Ulster Unionist Party had suspended Derek Hussey. They have not confirmed whether he will now be reinstated.
“I was suspended on the basis that I could have received a custodial sentence and I have contacted the local MLA about that. I do believe the party leader was premature but that was his choice.”
Derek Hussey said that he had never sought to hide his criminal convictions. He said too that he intended to continue with his political life.
“I will be continuing on as a politician. When I was last prosecuted I topped the poll as someone with two previous convictions. Those who voted for me, they knew my background. I have never allowed any issue to interfere with my public representation and I will continue with my work.”
The events and subsequent court proceedings had, he added, been a difficult period for him and his family.
“I know the shame I am going through,” Derek Hussey said.
“I know the remorse I feel and it is not just myself this has impacted but an extremely wide circle of family, friends, colleagues and community. I am well aware of that scenario.”
It will be up to the Probation Service to decide where Derek Hussey carries out the 100 hours unpaid work he has been ordered to do.
Leading drink drive charity Brake has criticised the UUP man’s behaviour and said it continued to push for more severe sentences.
Derek Hussey said though the severity of his sentence was up to the judicial system.
“It is not for me to judge. The judicial system has determined what I deserved. The court scenario has reached its conclusion, I have been judged and the sentence is there,” he said.