PRESSURE is mounting on a Conservative councillor to resign after a controversial Twitter post about SNP councillor Joy Brahim sparked outrage.
Todd Ferguson, who is depute Tory leader at North Ayrshire Council, has 'apologised if his tweet has been taken out of context' and been backed by his party at local and national level.
But local MP Patricia Gibson has demanded that Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson takes action against him.
The storm was sparked when Cllr Ferguson, referring to Cllr. Brahim, posted on Twitter: "A fellow councillor went on a witch hunt when I asked why she wanted to break up the UK being from the EU. 
"Despite living in this country for seven years, she is not a citizen, but is happily pocketing two tax payer funded jobs via the SNP." 
Ms Brahim, who hails from Holland, serves as a councillor in North Ayrshire and also works for constituency MSP Kenneth Gibson.
Mr Ferguson's social media outburst follows a previous controversial tweet about Cllr Brahim's background last year.
A furious Ms Brahim said: "Todd Ferguson was condemned nationally last year for his xenophobic comments, yet instead of suspending him, the North Ayrshire Tories made him depute leader. 
"Mr Ferguson has been actively trying to discredit me on social media purely because I am an EU citizen and his spontaneous, unsolicited outbursts towards me are quite disconcerting.
"This goes well beyond normal political discourse.
"I am grateful to Labour councillor Robert Foster for bringing this to my attention and condemning it.
"I will be submitting a complaint to the Standards Commissioner and remind anyone else who has been attacked by Mr Ferguson that they can too.
"He is completely unfit to serve and it is time for him to resign.”
The breakdown in relations between the two councillors, who represent West Kilbride, has escalated to such a degree that Cllr Brahim has also held talks with local authority officials about not attending joint public engagements with him in future.
As we went to press, Cllr Ferguson, who lives on the Isle of Cumbrae, was still in position.
The leader of the Tory group on NAC, Tom Marshall, told the News: “Cllr Ferguson apologises if his comment was taken out of context and caused upset to the councillor involved, which was absolutely not his intention.”
He added that his colleague 'continues to have the full support of the Conservative group both in North Ayrshire and also in Edinburgh', saying: "We do not believe that the comments breached any guidelines of acceptable behaviour and is within the norms of normal political comment.”
Cllr Brahim has slammed the response as inadequate.
She told the News: "It is not an apology if it has 'if' followed by the subject matter.
"It goes well beyond party differences on policy matters, and it is completely unacceptable. 
"In no uncertain terms, the Tory party have shown what they stand for."
SNP MP Patricia Gibson branded Mr Hamilton's remarks 'intimidating and hate-filled'. 
She added: "This Tory councillor has displayed a pattern of vile behaviour based simply upon someone’s background, not upon the contribution they have chosen to make to public life in Scotland.
"That is nothing short of a disgrace.
“Anything short of the most robust disciplinary action shows Ruth Davidson is a soft touch on xenophobia."