Veteran Sinn Fein councillor Anne Brolly said her colleague, “poll toppping” Limavady Mayor Sean McGlinchey not only has the support of his party but also that of the electorate who voted for him.

Colr. McGlinchey is an ex-IRA prisoner and served 18 years in Long Kesh for his involvement in the Coleraine car bomb in 1973 where six people were killed. After his release he said had he known innocent people would be killed he would never have done it. He re-iterated those words last week and expressed “deep regret”.

This week, David Gilmore, a survivor of the Coleraine car bomb and who works as a researcher for Limavady DUP MLA George Robinson, called on Mr. McGlinchey to step down from his post.

Mr. Gilmore said there was “a lot of bad feeling among people in Limavady and Coleraine” about the issue and said Sinn Fein should have been more tactful about recent appointments, including that of Mr. McGlinchey.

“It’s not about bitterness. I just don’t think he is the right person to be in that position,” he said.

However, Colr. Brolly said: “Sean has expressed his profound regret to family members and the community in Coleraine and family members have acknowledged his sincere regret.

“Sean has worked voluntarily and tirelessly with young people, persuading and encouraging them that democracy and the ballot box is the only way forward. Bigotry, sectarianism, inequality and injustice will have no place in Sean’s radar.

“We cannot change the past, but I can assure you and the people of the Limavady borough that Sean will continue to work tirelessly to ensure mistakes of the past will never be repeated.

“Sean has my confidence and the confidence of his colleagues, and, above all, the confidence of his community as seen by his poll topping vote in the election,” she said, adding: “The community has spoken and if we do believe in democracy, and we do, then I must rest my case regarding calls for his resignation.”

SDLP group leader in Limavady, Colr. Michael Coyle said if there was a call for Mayor McGlinchey’s resignation: “We probably would not support it for a couple of reasons. Firstly we believe in the D’Hondt system which gives parties the opportunity to select their candidates and secondly, when we talk about people being inappropriate for positions of mayor because of past atrocities, do we then have different levels of murderers, criminality or misdemeanours?”

Mayor McGlinchey said, in response to recent media coverage of his selection as Mayor of Limavady, it was “disappointing that many in media were intent on focusing on the past instead of the present and the future.

“We are in a new era of politics and it is our intention to build relationships with all sections of the community. It is difficult to get over the hurts of the past but the focus needs to be on building a better future.

“I was contacted by a victim of the Coleraine bomb on Thursday who expressed her disgust at the media treatment of myself and said she fully supported what I was doing as Mayor. That attitude is inspiring and fills me with hope.”