Councillor Patrick Brown is in the eye of a storm following a conviction last July for drink driving.
Councillors are expected to comply with the statutory Code of Conduct which applies to all councillors in Northern Ireland, and DUP South Down MLA Jim Wells has, following a recent article in the Irish News newspaper, called for his resignation.
An Alliance Party statement said: “Patrick made the party fully aware of this matter when it occurred and it was immediately referred to the party’s disciplinary committee.
“Action was suspended, pending the outcome of the legal proceedings. Once they concluded, the party’s disciplinary committee considered the matter, and further disciplinary sanctions were applied in addition to the legal conviction.
“With the support of the party, Patrick has also referred himself to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards.
“The party takes this matter and indeed all instances of drink-driving incredibly seriously. Patrick has fully acknowledged the gravity of the mistake he has made, and expressed his distress and full remorse.”
Councillor Patrick Brown added: “After a night out with friends, I came home and foolishly decided to take my motorbike out. Police pulled me over after the first corner and I fully cooperated with them. I am glad no-one was hurt as a result of my stupidity.
“I deeply regret this momentary error of judgement and realise what a serious mistake it was. I apologise profusely to all those I have let down. I make no excuses for my actions and fully accept I was at fault. I have learned from the experience, will never repeat it and I am using the matter to warn other people never to take such a risk.
“I have continued throughout this period to work on behalf of all my constituents and referred myself voluntarily to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards, as I hold myself to the same high standards I always have done. I have therefore referred this to the ombudsman, and they are much better qualified to decide on these matters than Jim Wells. ”
Wells Calls For Brown To Resign
South Down MLA Jim Wells said: “Patrick Brown should resign as a Newry Mourne and Down District councillor following his admission that he has been convicted of drink driving.
“Driving over the legal alcohol limit is a serious offense and all public representatives must show by example that it is totally unacceptable.
“Patrick Brown’s conviction occurred at the same time as a DUP councillor received a one year ban for drink driving in Randalstown. Trevor Beatty did the right thing and resigned his seat immediately.
“Councillor Brown was convicted in a Belfast court last July but appears to have made no public comment about this until the Irish News contacted him last week.
“He has referred himself to the Local Government Standards Commissioner, but he didn’t do this in July but waited until November 2017′.
“Councillor Brown also stated that he ‘was using the matter to warn other people never to take such a risk’. Many will ask, would Councillor Brown have used the matter to warn others had his conviction not been made public?
“Had Councillor Brown been genuine in his desire to warn others about the dangers of drink driving he would have made the matter public when he was convicted and issued his statement in July 2017 and not January 2018.
“Over the last 37 years as a public representative, I have witnessed the injury and loss of life caused by drink driving on the roads of South Down. Many of those who have been convicted have lost their jobs’.
“Councillor Brown was quick to call for the resignation of Patrick Clarke when he was convicted of various offences and he should be consistent and now leave Newry Mourne and Down Council immediately.
‘The public expect high standards from their representatives. Councillor Brown’s position is clearly untenable and he should resign his seat. The Alliance Party should also show how seriously it takes drink driving by taking strong action against him”.