Call for apology over Sinn Fein selfie that quoted Queen in Irish

Cllr Patrice Hardy's post on Twitter, which has since been removed. INLT 07-650-CON
Cllr Patrice Hardy's post on Twitter, which has since been removed. INLT 07-650-CON

A Sinn Fein councillor has caused a furore after she referred to the Queen as ‘Big Lizzie’ on social media.

Councillor Patrice Hardy, vice chair of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s community planning committee, took a picture of herself seated in the council chamber at the Braid, Ballymena last night. The ‘selfie’ had a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in the background.

The Bannside representative then posted it on Twitter with a caption stating “Big Liz says Dia dhuit”; a greeting in Irish.

The post, which was uploaded ahead of last night’s committee meeting, also stated: “About to kick off community planning committee and Lizzie is getting involved.”

The Times understands Cllr Hardy has since removed the message from Twitter.

But DUP Alderman Gregg McKeen has lodged a formal complaint with the council’s chief executive, claiming the post was “highly offensive” to the unionist community.

He told the Times: “Cllr Hardy has abused her position as vice chair by uploading this wholly inappropriate post on social media. This type of behaviour is disrespectful to Her Majesty and not in keeping with the expectation of an elected member.”

Meanwhile, TUV Cllr Ruth Wilson has called for Cllr Hardy to make a public apology at the next full council meeting.

She told the Times: “Unlike Councillor Hardy I attended Tuesday night’s meeting to represent my constituents and do the job I was elected to do - not post childish pictures on social media.

“Councillor Hardy’s conduct gives the lie to Sinn Fein/IRA’s so-called efforts to reach out to the Unionist community. You cannot claim that you respect other traditions and then insult them like this - particularly when she should have been working for the best outcome for local people at the community planning meeting.

“Ratepayers expect and frankly deserve better.”

In response to the criticism from unionists, Cllr Hardy said: “I initially posted the photo as an attempt at humour however, on reflection, I decided to remove it as I felt it may cause offence, which was never my intention.”