Brown resolute after drink-driving ban

Brown resolute after drink-driving ban

10 January 2018

ROWALLANE councillor Patrick Brown says he has no intention of resigning after it emerged he was convicted of a drink-driving charge.

The Alliance councillor, who appeared at Laganside Courthouse last July after being stopped by police riding a motorbike while over the alcohol limit outside Belfast four months earlier, has rejected calls from the DUP’s Jim Wells and Billy Walker to resign.

The incident  took place just days after the Stormont assembly election in which he was Alliance’s candidate for South Down.

Mr Brown was fined £250 and banned from driving for a year, but the ban was reduced by three months in December after he completed a drink-drive offenders’ course.

Aftter news of his conviction emerged last week, Mr Brown issued an apology and said he had referred himself to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards.

Mr Brown said he “foolishly decided” to take his motorbike out and was glad no-one was hurt as a result of his “stupidity”. He said he made no excuses for his actions and fully accepted he was at fault.

Calling on Mr Brown to resign, Mr Wells said driving over the legal limit was a serious 

offence 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,” he continued.

Mr Wells also questioned why Mr Brown had waited six months after his conviction to make public comment.

He said: “Over the past 37 years 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’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.”

Cllr Walker also called on Mr Brown to quit. He argued the example set by Mr Beatty was one Mr Brown should follow.

In response, Mr Brown said he referred himself to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards to ensure everything was taken through the proper legal channels and ensure public scrutiny of his “foolish mistake.”

He added: “The ombudsman is much better qualified to make a decision on this matter than Jim Wells. I referred myself following the completion of an internal party disciplinary procedure which finished in late October.”

The Alliance Party said its disciplinary committee considered the matter and “further disciplinary sanctions were applied.”

A spokesman said: “Patrick made the party fully aware of this matter when it occurred and it was immediately referred to the party’s disciplinary committee. 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.”