DUP’s Patterson: I’ve had internal support for speaking out

Ruth Patterson
Ruth Patterson

The DUP councillor who yesterday accused her party of doing far worse than David Trimble last night said that there has been silence from the party leadership.

Yesterday’s News Letter front page reported how veteran south Belfast councillor Ruth Patterson said that the party’s members and supporters had been left “confused and angry” by the decision to return to government just an hour after a report which confirmed that the IRA did not decommission all its weapons and which said that IRA members believe that the Army Council runs Sinn Fein.

Last night Cllr Patterson — who just last week met Peter Robinson to discuss her future in the party — told the News Letter that DUP headquarters had not contacted her in response to the comments.

But Cllr Patterson said that she had received “lots of messages of support” from people who are “very appreciative” of her willingness to speak out.

She said that one message from a fellow party member said that they shared her views and felt “really discouraged and betrayed” by the party’s stance.

She said that the individual told her that she was “speaking for a lot of DUP members”.

She said that the DUP had “hounded David Trimble for far less”.

“As a former member of the UDR, and someone who has been in touch with many innocent victims over recent days, it deeply saddens me and gives me cause for great concern that the party have decided to return to government with Sinn Fein, who the leadership of the DUP have themselves accepted are inextricably linked to the IRA.

“The electorate and many grassroots party members are understandably extremely confused and angered by this.

“The DUP are in government under the premise, declared by Peter Robinson in 2008, that the IRA Army Council had disbanded and that all weapons had been decommissioned.”

She added: “We hounded David Trimble for far less and I would be a hypocrite if I became part of the silent majority that just went along with sitting in government with the surrogates of the IRA Army Council.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged that in recent days the DUP’s most controversial special adviser (Spad) has been promoted within Peter Robinson’s office to replace new MLA Emma Pengelly.

Earlier this year Stephen Brimstone, who was accused by his then party colleague Jenny Palmer of putting undue pressure on her over a key vote by saying “the party comes first”, had been promoted from the Department of Social Development to working for the junior minister in Stormont Castle, but is now one of the three Spads assigned to Mr Robinson.

Mr Brimstone, who said that he could not remember parts of what had happened but denied that he had acted improperly, is paid £83,657 as a temporary civil servant.