“bright colours and/or striped materials should not be worn as these may distort the images” … a summons … and a protest … it’s democracy live

belfast city council logoTomorrow could be an interesting day – and night – around Belfast City Hall.

A rally is being planned to protest at the Lord Mayor’s actions at Monday night’s Duke of Edinburgh Award ceremony.

Facebook suggests: [click on the thumbnail to expand]

The people of Belfast will emerge on the City hall tomorrow night at 6pm [or 5pm depending on where you look] to express their anger. We would hope that Citizens from all over Northern Ireland will join for this peaceful protest. Sinn Fein IRA member Niall Ó Donnghaile should re-sign from office with immediate effect as he has shown his true colours within the last month. So much for moving on.

Meanwhile, unionist councillors have joined together to produce “a summons for a special council meeting to discuss the actions of the Lord Mayor”. Signed by DUP, UUP, PUP councillors (though not clear if by all) and independent unionist Frank McCoubrey, the summons will be presented to council officials at 9am on Thursday morning.

This council: Is appalled that the Lord Mayor politicised the Duke of Edinburgh Awards presentation in City Hall on 28th November by refusing to present an award to a young member of the Armed Cadet Forces; affirms that the civic position of Lord Mayor is about representing and respecting everyone within this city and calls on the Lord Mayor to publicly apologise for his actions and the gross offence caused. Failure to do so immediately would render his position untenable and he should resign.

Robin Newton (DUP) and David Brown (UUP) jointly stated:

The Lord Mayor has brought his office into disrepute by his actions and it is hard to underestimate the groundswell of public revulsion that he has generated. The vast majority of Belfast people, regardless of their background are appalled by his actions. It is now beyond any reasonable doubt that he has no intention of acting as a Lord Mayor for everyone.

Throughout his term of office he has behaved in an exclusionary and backward-looking way. To snub a fifteen-year old child, on what should have been a happy ocassion [sic] for her and her family, represents one of the lowest points that City Hall politics has ever witnessed. Such petty bigotry has no place in modern society.

We are sending a message that all political representatives need to take a stand for genuine inclusion and fairness. At this juncture it is our hope that colleagues from other parties in the council will add their signatures to our requisition.

A sideshow that’s unlikely to be formally discussed at the full council meeting, yet will no doubt be continually referenced throughout the agenda.

Inside the chamber, it’ll be the first full night of live streaming of council business, a proposal brought by (then) SDLP councillor Niall Kelly two years ago, back in December 2009. According to the protocol that’s been drawn up “to ensure the maximum openness and transparency of Council business”:

The Lord Mayor will make an announcement at the start of each meeting reminding Members that the meeting is being broadcast live to the internet and will be capable of repeated viewing. The Lord Mayor will also advise that the webcasting of the meeting may be terminated or suspended at his/her discretion.

Specific seats have been assigned and Members must speak only from their allotted seat. This is important as, during the live streaming, the speaker’s name will be indexed onto the webcast.

Members should speak only when directed to do so by the Lord Mayor resulting in only one person speaking at a time. It is also important to ensure that Members switch on their microphone before speaking and to switch it off again once finished.

I’m not sure that last point will be terribly well adhered to!

It is recommended that bright colours and/or striped materials should not be worn as these may distort the images which are streamed live.

In the event of a vote, the live webcast will revert to a wide angle view of the Lord Mayor’s podium to allow for the voting to take place.

The protocol was drawn up after councillors had “previously indicated that thought should be given as to how the conduct of the Council meetings might be impacted upon when the live broadcasts commence. In particular Members were keen to ensure that the reputation of the Council would not be adversely affected.”

The live streaming will be suspended or terminated “only by the Lord Mayor (or the Deputy Lord Mayor in the absence of the Lord Mayor) if, in their opinion, continuing to webcast would prejudice the integrity of the meeting”.

Instances of inappropriate behaviour, such as prolonged use of offensive language; violence towards one another or to equipment/furniture may result in the termination of the live webcast.

It all starts at 6pm on a video screen near you. (Local) Democracy Live!

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  • Cynic2

    “Instances of inappropriate behaviour, such as prolonged use of offensive language; violence towards one another or to equipment/furniture may result in the termination of the live webcast.”

    Why dont we turn it into a cage fight and see tickets?

    Mad Wee Rabbie Newton vs the Short Strand Vowel Strangler?

  • Rory Carr

    “…the Lord Mayor politicised the Duke of Edinburgh Awards presentation in City Hall…” (Honest !)

    Latest demonstration of Unionist irony-absence now showing at a city hall near you.

    Next week – Lord Mayor to be accused of bringing festivity into Christmas.

  • Mac

    Love the Facebook page :)

    Samuel Flanagan :
    David McClelland told me the other morning, this guy Neil Donachy or whatever his name is, has been invited to cut the first sod of a new garden to be created in the Grove Playing Fields.

    Tigers Bay Community Group :
    If he digs a hole he may get buried in it?

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

  • Dec

    I eagerly await arrests and court appearances for those facebook comments.

    This whole event was handled appallingly by the Mayor however as Mairtin O’Muilleoir stated perhaps the Deputy Lord Mayor could explain how she equates representing ‘all the people of Belfast’ by refusing to even speak to the Lord Mayor.

  • quality

    “I eagerly await arrests and court appearances for those facebook comments.”

    My sarcasm detector is on the blink this morning, but I genuinely do.

    Community work, particularly that facilitated by those who were (shall we say) ‘involved’, tends to be talked down despite some genuinely good work out there in both communities.

    Apes like this are the reason.

  • Mick Fealty

    Can we have a hashtag?

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    A few interesting points from Cllr Newton. He boldly declares, “The vast majority of Belfast people, regardless of their background are appalled by his actions.”. It begs the question, how does he know?

    Secondly,” It is now beyond any reasonable doubt that he has no intention of acting as a Lord Mayor for everyone.”

    It has long been recognised that this has never been the case, certainly not under the tenure of unionists. SF have always stated there were occasions that they would not be able to attend certain events. In the event of such it would be delegated to the Deputy.
    Given that in terms of civility and inclusivity the current Deputy does not deign to even speak to the Mayor, it is difficult to carry this out.

    What we have is a variation of the poppy fascism that has permeated this place for many years now. Unionism of all hues are falling over themselves (tabloid fashion) to appear to be the most loyal to the uniform.
    It also dovetails with the absurd behaviour of the Newsletter as it is rare indeed when unionist ‘fury’ or ‘outrage’ does not fall from the leader column or headlines. Today in rather timid fashion it describes the Mayors actions as ‘insulting’ and ‘reprehensible’.

  • michael-mcivor

    In these days of peace everyone should be interested in keeping guns out of reach of the youth- pity that the brit organization wants to help their children to live in the way of the gun-

  • Reader

    michael-mcivor: In these days of peace everyone should be interested in keeping guns out of reach of the youth- pity that the brit organization wants to help their children to live in the way of the gun-
    These are not days of peace, there are wars all over the world. Almost every country, even neutrals, have armies. That includes the country you probably identify with, as well as my own. And many armies, especially in democracies, have outreach elements – open days, cadets, web sites. So, out of all that, what’s the problem?
    Or are you an unconditional pacifist?

  • michael-mcivor

    Reader-

    Every country has an army but it is those that show children
    how to fire a gun into another child that i oppose- the Lord Mayor has made a stand for childrens rights-

    Belfast say’s NO to guns–

  • quality

    “Lord Mayor has made a stand for childrens rights”

    All hail this brave visionary.

  • Reader

    maichel-mcivor: Every country has an army but it is those that show children
    how to fire a gun into another child that i oppose- the Lord Mayor has made a stand for childrens rights-

    The mayor may belong to the wrong organisations, then –
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/child-lsquoterroristsrsquo-photos-row-15121827.html
    Though I don’t remember being taught to shoot at other children while I was in the CCF in the 1970s, and I’m sure there are a lot more restrictions these days.

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    Let’s keep the comments to the theme of the post – tonight’s live webcast, the summons, protests and councillors wearing overly stripy shirts – rather than March’s gun/photo story!

  • Stephen Blacker

    What about the hashtag #bcctv ?

  • Into the west

    “It is recommended that bright colours and/or striped materials
    should not be worn as these may distort the images which are streamed live.”

    ergo wearing orange and/or waving union flags are out !

    Isn’t that ruling worth a second protest in itself ?

  • Cynic2

    “Belfast say’s NO to guns”

    is the Lord Mayor now repudiating his party’s armed struggle?

  • Cynic2

    It is recommended that bright colours should not be worn as these may highlight the greyness of our Council members

  • Into the west

    aye cynic
    ” its pettiness which plays so rough” bob d

  • http://alaninbelfast.blogspot.com Alan in Belfast

    Cynic2 – since the comment was off topic – Belfast also says no to extra apostrophes!

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    “It begs the question,

    No it doesn’t”.

    Oh but it does, Messrs Newtown and Brown have made a statement on behalf of, ‘the vast majority of Belfast people.’ By what right do they make that claim? How did this consultative process take place?

  • Jimmy Sands

    Pat,

    A perfectly valid point, it’s just the phrase “beg the question” does not mean what you appear to think it means. A minor bugbear I’m afraid.

  • Rory Carr

    This proscription on bright colours and striped materials is going to exclude quite a section of those people of Belfast as they “emerge on (sic) the City hall” ( a neat trick if they can pull it off): businessmen, former UDA NCO’s, those zebra-print top and fluorescent pink tights wearing supporters not yet returned home from Gay Pride, orange-vested workmen among others which I presume, will account for this mass demonstration by the “vast majority of Belfast people” being whittled down to around a dozen in actual attendance.

  • JR

    “Sinn Fein IRA member” you don’t hear that as much these days.

  • Cynic2

    I see he has apologised in the teeth of the righteous anger

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-15975625

    But strangely the SF Website seems silent on the abject apology. Its much more focused on its ‘national lottery’ results.

    And interestingly there is nothing on its website to to indicate that this is a legal lottery in de Nurth. So did it have a licence or not?

  • Rory Carr

    Unionist councilors are claiming “This council is appalled that the lord mayor politicised the Duke of Edinburgh Awards…”

    Yet they seem to be perfectly happy with the Duke of Edinburgh who first politicised the awards when he instituted them back in 1956.

    Wish they’d make up their bloody minds.

    As the Duke’s eldest boy might have it, “Simply appalling !”

  • Into the west

    “I see he has apologised in the teeth of the righteous anger”
    oh come on cynic2 comedians relish these “unionist fury” moments.

  • Rory Carr

    Let’s face it, our young Lord Mayor. who has been making quite a decent fist of it up till now, really did make a hames of it on this occasion.

    He should never have agreed to present the awards in the first place. He’s a Republican, Republicans do not (or at least ought not) promote monarchy or the trappings thereof. It is one thing to meet with royalty in whatever guise they adopt at whatever public function – the “go-along-to-get-along” school of diplomacy – but principle surely demands that an elected Republican official eshews any ceremony that actively promotes and encourages the continuance of monarchy, the more so when the intention of that activity is to propagandise children in the royalist cause.

    What can he have been thinking of? Surely he wasn’t hoping to finally win the hand(shake) of his winsome (but coy) deputy ? He has more hope of contracting a gay marriage with a certain implacable Unionist foe of the SF/DUP governmental partnership.

    In the meantime, if he is considering making any apology (the statement, “If I have caused any offence to anyone, I apologise.” is not an apology) then he should apologise to those who voted for him on the assumption that they were voting for a Republican.

  • Mac

    “I see he has apologised in the teeth of the righteous anger”

    Isn’t that what he already said yesterday?
    To paraphrase, “My intention wasn’t to offend, if I did offend the girl then I apologise” all with an offer to meet the girl and her parents in private to explain his position.

    So in the face of impotent anger, he has essentially reiterated the statement he made yesterday, without saying he was wrong to do what he did or promise not to do it again and the DUP get to pretend to themselves and their voters that their anger had any real effect.

  • Rory Carr

    I must say that, so touched was I by Cynic’s concern that Sinn Féin might be operating their national lottery without a licence, I have been searching avidly on e-bay to see if I can locate a custom-made barrel-scraper that I might send him for a Christmas present as his old one must surely be wearing thin by now.

  • Blissett

    Don’t think a licence is needed for a private members draw, which the National Draw is.