A VETERAN South Down politician is standing by a controversial social media post he made in the wake of the closure of the Coach nightclub.
Directors from the well-known Banbridge nightclub venue that had thousands through its doors over four generations announced its permanent closure last Thursday (5 November) due to the impact of Covid-19.
The Outlook understands over 30 jobs have been lost as a result of the closure – and following the announcement, social media was flooded with memories of the Coach from former partygoers who took to its dancefloor over the years.
However, South Down DUP MLA Jim Wells, who lost the party whip after he criticised the leadership in the media back in 2018, suggested in a social media post that some people would be “relieved” to hear its doors had shut – sparking a furious reaction from some online.
Mr Wells’ post on Facebook said: "Many local residents will be relieved to learn of the permanent closure of The Coach nightclub in Banbridge."
The post has since received nearly 1,000 comments, most of which criticising Mr Wells, while it has been shared over 200 times online.
Those commenting to defend the Coach said Mr Wells was “gloating on good people’s misfortunes” and “the whole of Banbridge has lost their night life” which will have an impact on other businesses such as taxi firms and takeaways.
One person said the comment was “an absolute disgrace” and “horrible” with so many people losing their jobs in the local area.
Calls were made for Mr Wells to apologise and remove his post, however; the South Down MLA told The Outlook he has no regrets about writing it.
Mr Wells said: “I stand totally by what I said and have received many messages of support from people with direct experience of living near the Coach or dealing with the problems that young people experience after a night out there.
“Many people have criticised me for what I said but I notice that they live in places such as Newry, Castlewellan, Warrenpoint and Belfast.
“I have no doubt that they enjoyed many trips to Banbridge but they did not have to live with the consequences of so many people arriving in a relatively small town.”
See full story in this week's Outlook.