Jim Wells: Alliance councillor should resign over drink-driving offence

Patrick Brown
Patrick Brown

DUP MLA Jim Wells has called for an Alliance councillor to resign after being convicted of drink-driving.

Patrick Brown, a member of Newry, Mourne and Down Council, pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence of alcohol last year.

He issued an apology this week and said he was using the matter to warn other people never to take such a risk.

The party confirmed that Mr Brown has referred himself to the local government standards watchdog.

But Mr Wells said the Alliance councillor’s position was “clearly untenable”, and questioned why Mr Brown had only issued an apology around six months after his conviction.

He also highlighted that Mr Brown’s conviction had taken place around the same time that Trevor Beatty – a DUP councillor in Randalstown – was convicted of drink-driving.

He added that Mr Beatty “did the right thing and resigned his seat immediately”.

Mr Wells continued: “The public expect high standards from their representatives. Councillor Brown’s position is clearly untenable and he should resign his seat.”

The offence took place on Ballynahatty Road outside Belfast on March 5, 2017.

Mr Brown was fined £250 at Laganside courthouse in July and received a one-year driving ban, which was reduced by three months after he completed a drink-driving offenders’ course.

An Alliance spokesperson told the News Letter that the party takes all instances of drink-driving “incredibly seriously”.

He added: “Patrick has fully acknowledged the gravity of the mistake he has made, and expressed his distress and full remorse.”

The party’s disciplinary committee considered the matter and “further disciplinary sanctions were applied” in addition to the criminal conviction.