Northern Ireland

DUP slams 'offensive' Foster post shared by SDLP councillor

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Image caption Denise Mullen said the message had been accidentally forwarded while her young son was playing with her phone

The DUP has criticised a message from an SDLP councillor containing a "disrespectful and grossly offensive" social media post about Arlene Foster.

The post, about the DUP leader, was forwarded from Dungannon councillor Denise Mullen's phone.

The Belfast Telegraph reported that the message was sent to a business WhatsApp group, in what Mrs Mullen has described as an "innocent mistake".

She has issued a "full apology" to the DUP, the SDLP said.

Mrs Mullen said the post had been sent to her from someone else.

An SDLP spokesperson said Mrs Mullen had informed them the message was accidentally forwarded to the Dungannon Regeneration Partnership (DRP) WhatsApp group by her young son while he played with her phone.

Image caption The social media meme was sent from Ms Mullen's phone to the Dungannon Regeneration Partnership (DRP) WhatsApp group

Stir up hatred

They added: "The SDLP understands that Cllr Mullen contacted council officers immediately and has issued a full apology to the DUP for any unintended offence caused."

However, DUP Mid Ulster MLA Keith Buchanan said he would be contacting the party leader Colum Eastwood to see what action would be taken.

"This social media post certainly paints a thousand words. This graphic is not designed to critique policies, but rather to stir up hatred of Arlene Foster," he said.

"The post calls into question Ms Mullen's position on the DRP committee and as an elected representative," he added.

Anti-unionist bigotry

Image caption DUP MLA Keith Buchanan said he would be contacting the party leader Colum Eastwood

He said a complaint had already been made to the chair of the DRP and the party would be making a complaint to the local government ethical standards directorate.

The DUP MLA said that "anti-unionist bigotry couldn't be allowed to go unchecked".

Dungannon DUP councillor Kim Ashton said the social media post as "disrespectful and grossly offensive".

The party has called for a public apology.

The Belfast Telegraph reported that Mrs Mullen had apologised to the Whatsapp group on Thursday night.