THE former deputy lord mayor of Belfast has faced a court on Thursday charged with sending an electronic message that was grossly offensive.
But Ruth Patterson’s lawyer told Belfast Magistrates Court that she planned to contest the charge.
The DUP Belfast City councillor was charged last month by detectives over the Facebook comment about an imaginary attack at an IRA commemoration parade in Castlederg, Co Tyrone.
Senior DUP figures turned up to support the 57-year-old during the hearing including Jonathan Bell, Health Minister Edwin Poots and east Antrim MP Sammy Wilson
A PSNI detective told the court that he believed he could connect the defendant, from Ravenhill Avenue, in east Belfast, to the charges.
Defence solicitor Denis Moloney said she would be contesting the single charge.
He said: “The matter gained notoriety because of the defendant’s humble and contrite apology.”
The solicitor told District Judge Fiona Bagnall the apology did not affect his client’s ability to contest the charges.
He described Ms Patterson’s arrest as “malicious and draconian” and appealed for the case to be heard as soon as possible so “it does not hang over her like the sword of Damocles”.
The solicitor also said there were a number of issues he wished to raise with the investigating police officer.
There was applause from the public gallery at the end of the five minute hearing and the district judge called for quiet before ordering the court to be cleared.
Some supporters covered their faces and used umbrellas to prevent the media from taking pictures as Ms Patterson entered and left the court building.
She was remanded on continuing bail until her next appearance on October 17.