The High Court has overturned a ban which prevented Peterborough Councilor Neville Sanders from holding public office, imposed because of insensitive remarks about the Irish.
Today a senior judge ruled that, even though there had been a breach of the code, it was wrong to disqualify the controversial councillor as he had been re-elected at the ballot box by an electorate which knew the accusations against him.
“It cannot be right to override that verdict,” ruled Mr Justice Wilkie, sitting at the High Court in London. (PA)
Mr Sanders was contacted by Carrickfergus District Council in 2003, which was seeking support for a public inquiry into the suicide of Royal Irish Regiment soldier Paul Cochrane.
In response, Mr Sanders was quoted in the Belfast Telegraph as saying he was "fed up paying taxes to cover for the lazy Irish."
He added he "did not know where poxy Carrickfergus was, and he was annoyed at the council there for wasting his time."
I think its fair to say that while his comments were undoubtedly crass, they would have caused more offence among unionists than nationalists. for reasons, which were outlined by Henry McDonald at the time.
Neville Sanders may be an extreme case study but he none the less expresses a widely belief even in the Tory Home Counties that Northern Ireland is a troublesome, costly and ultimately dispensable adjunct to Britain. Those within Ulster Unionism contemplating pushing the rewind button to send the north back to the stagnant days of permanent direct rule should bear that pervasive attitude in mind. (Observer)