Tory councillor axed from board amid sectarian row

A Conservative councillor has been removed from one of his first posts after sharing material from Protestant pride groups.
Neill Graham. Picture: submittedNeill Graham. Picture: submitted
Neill Graham. Picture: submitted

Renfrewshire councillor Neill Graham was ousted from his new role on the authority’s Joint Consultative Board for non-teaching staff within 48 hours, after trade unions threatened a boycott.

The newly elected Tory, last month had to apologise for circulating material from Protestant pride groups on Facebook.

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Cllr Graham’s position on the board involved handling workforce complaints and equality issues. He was appointed on Tuesday.

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On Thursday Unison, Unite and GMB, told the council they would boycott the forum unless Mr Graham was replaced.

The Herald reported that Mr Graham, 26, who represents Paisley Northeast and Ralston, was out by the end of the day.

In 2014, the controversial figure asked people to ‘like’ a photograph on Facebook of the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday, when soldiers shot 13 people dead on a civil march in Derry in 1972.

The image was from the “Proud to be a Protestant banter group” and Mr Graham’s post said: “How many likes for the Paras?”

The 2010 Saville inquiry concluded the killings were both “unjustified” and “unjustifiable”.

In 2013, Mr Graham also shared posts from the “Protestant coalition” Facebook group critical of former South African president Nelson Mandela, and joked about attending a conference of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party while on a holiday in Greece.

Mr Graham’s former address and current phone number appear in a leaked database of British National Party members from 2008, although he strongly denies BNP membership.

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Mark Ferguson of Unison Renfrewshire branch, said: “It was the right decision to take for that particular board, but there’s a wider issue for the council with someone who has expressed these views.

“They should be reminded of the council’s policies on equality, diversity and respect.”

A council spokesman said: “Nominations for membership of Council boards and committees is a matter for the parties and is currently being finalised. It is our understanding the appointment of Councillor Graham to the Joint Consultative Board (Non-Teaching) has been changed.”