SNP councillor barred from joining EU body by UK Minister

Chris McEleny .
Chris McEleny .
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An SNP councillor has claimed he was “blacklisted” after being barred from an influential EU body by a UK minister over social media posts.

Chris McEleny’s nomination for the Committee of Regions, an EU advisory body made up of local and regional politicians from the 28 member states, was opposed by Lord Callanan, a minister at the Brexit department.

According to a letter from Lord Callanan obtained by the Sunday Herald, Mr McEleny, the leader of the SNP group on Inverclyde Council and a two-time candidate for party depute leader, was blocked because of social media posts that created the “perception of inciting sectarian tensions”.

In 2015, Mr McEleny apologised for a Facebook post criticising a Commons vote on airstrikes in Syria that included a lyric from a song about IRA member Joe McDonnell: “And you dare to call me a terrorist, while you look down your gun”.

Mr McEleny told the Sunday Herald: “By making this decision the UK government is effectively saying it doesn’t matter who the people of Scotland elect if they disagree.”

In his letter, Lord Callanan said his decision was “not connected to Councillor McEleny’s views on Scottish independence”.

A UK government spokesperson said: “Councillor McEleny’s use of social media has attracted public criticism on a number of occasions in relation to his language and the perception of inciting sectarian tensions.

“We have invited the Scottish Government to submit another SNP nomination in place of Councillor McEleny.”