09 Aug 2022

'I'm still waiting on an answer' - Former Sinn Fein Mayor of Derry and Strabane challenges DUP to produce evidence for their attacks on him over the past year

The DUP in Derry has been challenged to back up its claims that the former Mayor of Derry used his position to ‘promote a nationalist, Sinn Fein and republican agenda’. It comes after local unionist councillors, including the new Deputy Mayor, criticised aSinn Fein’s Maolíosa McHugh over his last year in the office, which one DUP councillor said had resulted in the relationship with the Protestant, Unionist and Loyalist (PUL) being ‘severely damaged’. The comments came at Monday night’s AGM of Derry City and Strabane District Council, after former Mayor delivered a short speech reflecting on his year as First Citizen. None of the unionist councillors present joined in with a round of applause for Cllr McHugh, after which the DUP’s Drew Thompson, who has previously criticised the Sinn Fein man, accused him of failing to fulfil his civic duties in an ‘apolitical and impartial way’ as set out in council protocol. Alderman Thompson cited Cllr McHugh’s refusal to attend an event where Prince Charles met with the victims of the August 2017 flooding in Eglinton as evidence of him ‘snubbing’ the PUL community, pictured above. “During your year in office, the PUL community in the council area do not agree that you have acted in an impartial manner as the protocol indicates,” he said. “You have snubbed the community on numerous occasions, especially when you ignored the victims of the terrible floods on the visit of Prince Charles to the Derry City and Strabane District Council area and by your behaviour and attitude, to the elected representatives of the PUL community at council meetings in this council chamber. “I have raised this on numerous occasions but you have continually tried to deny PUL representatives the opportunity to speak.” Alderman Thompson continued that Cllr McHugh had ‘attempted to silence the voice of the PUL community on issues which you deem to be contrary to your views’ before adding that he had used the office of Mayor to ‘promote a nationalist, Sinn Fein and republican agenda’. He continued that ‘community relations in this area have been severely damaged’ and the incoming Mayor would have a ‘tremendous task’ in rebuilding the ‘confidence’ on unionists in the local council. “I will finish by giving thanks that your term of office has come to an end and hope that the council can get back to delivering for all sections of the community,” Alderman Thompson added. However, Cllr McHugh then hit back at the claims, and revealed that such was the level of attacks from the DUP from the outset of his term in office that he had been forced to write to Alderman Thompson asking him to explain his actions. “May I remind you that prior to the Prince Charles visit you were making an assault on the Mayor in the very first month to the point that I had to write to you and ask you to produce the evidence that would have justify to your tirade,” Cllr McHugh said. “I’m still waiting on answer.”

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