A Sinn Fein councillor who described Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster as a “disgraced” former minister and “puppet master” of the Conservatives after she met the new secretary of state in his secret visit to Enniskillen last week has been asked to apologise.

In a tweet, Erne West representative Chris McCaffrey criticised Julian Smith who secretly visited Enniskillen Police Station last Wednesday to meet new Chief Constable Simon Byrne to discuss the bomb attack at Wattlebridge near Newtownbutler. Their joint visit was only revealed when Mr. Byrne tweeted a photograph of himself with Mr. Smith hours later.

Later Mr. Smith joined Mrs. Foster at the Killyhevlin Hotel where this newspaper photographed the pair ahead of their meeting during which none of the other political parties in Fermanagh were represented.

When doorstepped by our journalist Jessica Campbell Mr. Smith would not comment on specifics regarding the incident at Wattlebridge, saying: “I think it is important that I don’t talk about security matters but I am confident in the PSNI and the security services more generally are doing their job and working incredibly hard to address the challenges that we currently face.”

Later Councillor McCaffrey tweeted: “So Julian Smith, the British Secretary of State, makes a secret visit to Fermanagh, doesn’t meet with the MP for the constituency but instead meets with his puppet master DUP leader Arlene Foster, the disgraced former First Minister. This is British neutrality at its finest.”

He followed up his comments in a statement, describing Mr. Smith’s decision to only meet Mrs. Foster as “a truly disgraceful episode”.

“It is inexcusable that we only learned of the new British Secretary of State, Julian Smith’s visit to Enniskillen and his meeting with the PSNI Chief Constable after a photo was posted on social media.

“Why was this kept a secret in the first instance? Why were media and local politicians not informed of this or invited to any of the engagements afterwards?” he asked.

Councillor McCaffrey added: “What is an altogether even more damning affair, however, is that whilst on his secret visit to Fermanagh the British Secretary of State held another secret meeting, this time with his partner in government, the former First Minister Arlene Foster. I find it ridiculous that he comes to Fermanagh and doesn’t meet with the MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, or any representatives from across the political parties except the one propping up his party.”

DUP Councillor Keith Elliott was quick to defend his party leader, telling this newspaper: “Perhaps Chris McCaffrey would be better placed to turn his attention as to why the Northern Ireland Secretary of State did not meet Michelle Gildernew?

“It might have something do with the fact that Sinn Fein don’t actually take their seats in Westminster and really don’t have the influence when it counts. The DUP do. It’s not up to Sinn Fein to dictate who Julian Smith has meetings with. That’s up to him,” he said. Councillor Elliott added: “Furthermore his language towards Arlene Foster is derogatory and shows a total lack of respect, something Sinn Fein preach an awful lot about but don’t actually action it, particularly towards Unionists.

“Chris McCaffrey should apologise for such comments and recognise the error of Sinn Fein’s ways. After all their MPs are neglecting the office they have been elected to,” he said.