LAST year's DUP deputy mayor has criticised his party's decision to hand the mayorship of Causeway Coast and Glens to Sinn Féin in the year of the Open Championship.
Trevor Clarke, who lost his seat in local government elections earlier this month, said people were “understandably upset” his party had passed up the chance to appoint someone from its own ranks.
He wrote: “If the DUP had taken the role of mayor this year a representative of Unionism would have been the face of the borough and Northern Ireland on a global stage.
Instead, he said, the limelight would be enjoyed by “a representative of Irish Republicanism.”
As the largest party in Causeway Coast and Glens Council chamber the DUP were entitled to choose in which year of the coming mandate one of its members would sit as mayor.
Instead Sinn Féin appointed newly elected Kilrea man, Sean Bateson.
It's understood the DUP have opted to make an appointment next year ahead of Northern Ireland's centenary celebrations in early 2021.
Mr Clarke said it was unlikely a Sinn Féin Mayor would have participated in events celebrating “Britishness” and a unionist deputy would probably have assumed the role.
The Chronicle understands concerns similar to those of Mr Clarke were raised by DUP elected members ahead of the the decision.
Mr Clarke's post has since been deleted.
The Chronicle asked the DUP to comment on the apparent division within their ranks. So far no response has been received.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin said Mr Bateson's appointment resulted form the party's increased mandate.
Group leader Cara McShane added: "Sean Bateson has been appointed to the position of Mayor because the electorate came out in the recent election and increased the number of Sinn Féin seats on the council from seven to nine.
“We have this position because of our mandate. Unionists councillors, thankfully, no longer get to decide who can and cannot represent people.
“Some of the reaction is extremely disappointing and continues to send out a negative signal that some are still intent on treating Nationalists and Republicans as second class citizens. Those days are gone.”
In a press statement MP Gregory Campbell later called on Mr Bateson to do better than his predecessor, Brenda Chivers, when it comes to representing both sides of the community.
For more see this week's Ballycastle Chronicle