Councillor suspended after IRA outrage

Coun Florence Anderson Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council presents Edna Rochester with the Community Champion award'Pride of Wearside Awards 2009
Coun Florence Anderson Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council presents Edna Rochester with the Community Champion award'Pride of Wearside Awards 2009
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A LABOUR councillor has been suspended after provoking outrage on Facebook by “liking” a comment calling for the IRA to bomb a Conservative conference.

Sunderland city councillor Florence Anderson, a member of the Facebook Group “Margaret Thatcher doesn’t have to be dead before we give her a funeral”, is today facing an uncertain political future.

Her behaviour was branded “disgraceful” by party bosses, after the former deputy leader of the council “liked” the comment: “We are appealing to the IRA to find it in their hearts to bomb the next Tory conference” on the Facebook group wall.

The comment was believed to be made by an administrator of the page.

Coun Anderson has defended previous controversial outbursts, including saying she wanted Margaret Thatcher to “Burn in Hell”, by saying: “I’m not the deputy leader of the council on Facebook”.

She made the comment on social networking website Facebook, while the 85-year-old former Prime Minister lay in a hospital bed receiving treatment for flu.

Today, Conservative councillor Tony Morrissey criticised Coun Anderson for what she had said on the site, but added her suspension was “not surprising”.

“Clearly, she has done it once too often for the Labour Party and they have had enough of it,” he said. “She has been through all this before, but the message doesn’t seem to be registering.

“There seems to be no way to get through to her.”

There were calls on social networking site Twitter for Ed Miliband to sack Coun Anderson.

Labour councillor Dan Crawford, from Ealing Council, tweeted: “As a Labour councillor, I think that’s disgusting”.

Coun Anderson chairs the council committee charged with ensuring public authorities in Sunderland are fulfilling their duties to fight crime.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “These comments are disgraceful. Florence Anderson has been suspended from the Labour Party with immediate effect in light of this information.”

The Hetton ward representative was born in Shiney Row and became the council’s first woman deputy leader in May 2008.

A grandmother and Newcastle United supporter, she has been a city councillor since 1991.

She also led the Eppleton Area Miners’ Wives Support Group during the strike.

Coun Anderson was today unavailable for comment at her Hetton home.

As of yesterday, Sunderland council had not received a complaint about the issue.

Chief executive Dave Smith said: “All councillors are required to comply with a code of conduct that sets out standards of behaviour.

“Complaints about councillors are dealt with by the city council’s standards committee, which is independently chaired.

“It’s the standards committee, not the city council that determines how a complaint should be responded to.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho