McAFEE QUITS

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INDEPENDENT councillor Iain McAfee, (right) who is currently the subject of a police probe to see if he breached electoral law, has resigned his seat.

The councillor hand-delivered his resignation to Ballymoney Council headquarters on Monday afternoon.

Council Chief Executive John Dempsey confirmed to the Times he received the letter around 4.30pm and he said he will now inform the Council and the Chief Electoral Officer.

Back in May Cllr McAfee was elected in the Ballymoney Town electoral area but after he attended a handful of meetings it emerged a complaint had been received by the Council about his status.

Under electoral law anyone who gets paid to work in connection with a Council in Northern Ireland cannot stand as a councillor.

Cllr McAfee was working as a Health Inequalities Officer for the Carrickfergus and Larne areas funded by the Public Health Agency and was based with Ballymena Borough Council.

A probe was launched and police were called in.

Cllr Afee was interviewed by the PSNI and a file was prepared for the Public Prosecution Service and it is believed a decision on whether or not to prosecute Cllr McAfee is due to be taken soon.

But now, Cllr McAfee, who had voluntarily stepped back from the Council whilst the investigation continued, has dramatically tendered his resignation from the Council.

In a statement to the Times on Monday he said: “As of Monday 26 September I have tendered my resignation as a Councillor for Ballymoney Borough.

“The whole scenario around my election has been played out in the press and television and there is no point going over old ground apart from to say that I am still waiting to hear from the PPS as to whether I am to be charged over this.

“I, however, wish to again thank all those who voted for me in the election and expressed their annoyance that I am unable to take my seat. It annoys me too, however, I unfortunately have to accept that this is the law as its stands.

“Several months ago the Electoral Commission sent me a letter regarding the option of nominating a substitute replacement in the event of my seat becoming vacant.

“I have forwarded to them a name of a possible replacement and would hope the Council accept this. Certainly several councillors who have been in contact with me have indicated they would support this so as to avoid a by-election.”

Mr Afee would not comment further on who he has put forward as a possible replacement.

In his letter to the Council, Cllr McAfee said the Council could cash a cheque he wrote in May repaying a Council allowance he had been sent.

When elected Cllr McAfee had said: “The whole event has been a great experience and to be elected is the icing on the cake.”

When news of the investigation into his status as a councillor broke at the end of May, Cllr McAfee said in a statement: “The announcement that I may be disqualified to be a councillor is devastating for myself and the many people who supported me during my campaign and since then.

“I entered the election process genuinely and it is clear that I was elected because people agreed with what I believed in. It is however clear that some will be very pleased if I am disqualified. When I stood I had a vision that change was needed and that Ballymoney Borough Council would become more aware of the views of the community and more importantly take on these views.

“Sadly this vision may not happen unless I am still officially a councillor. However, until such time as the situation is clarified I will not be taking part in any Council business and I have also returned any allowances.

“I will now have to take stock of my future. I wasn’t naturally attracted to politics and as several have said to me it is a dirty business which I am probably best not involved in anyway. Certainly since this has occurred my opinion on a number of issues has changed.”

Cllr McAfee received 347 first preference votes when he stood as an Independent candidate in May.