According to a UTV report, Sinn Féin Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile, Lord Mayor of Belfast, was at Belfast City Hall on Monday evening handing out Northern Ireland Silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards to “over 166 young people”, between the aged of 14 and 24, “from all backgrounds”. Almost. From the UTV report
During the service at Belfast City Hall on Monday evening, the Lord Mayor stopped presenting the certificates to the group when it became clear that one of the recipients was a representative of the Army Cadet Force. [added link]
Instead Gordon Topping, Chair of the Duke of Edinburgh Advisory Committee, finished the presentation.
Councillor Ó Donnghaile said he stepped down in order not to “shirk” his responsibilities “as an Irish Republican”.
As the quote from DUP Cllr Gavin Robinson notes
The irony is that he agreed to present the awards at all. The Duke of Edinburgh is Colonel in Chief of the Cadet Forces.
The Army Cadet website adds that the around 45,000 cadets involved are aged 12-18.
The BBC report quotes Cllr Ó Donnghaile
Mr O Donnghaile said he was told “at the last minute” that an award was to be presented to a cadet force member.
He said someone else then joined him to present the certificates.
Mr O Donnghaile said he would be happy to meet the cadet and her family to explain his decision.
He said it was “nothing personal”.
“At the last minute I was informed that one of the awards was to be presented to a representative of the Army cadet force,” Mr O Donnghaile added.
“In order to avoid any unnecessary sensitivities to either party, it was arranged for the outgoing chairman of the organisation to present some of the certificates alongside me.”
And a spokesperson for the Duke of Edinburgh awards
A spokesperson for the Duke of Edinburgh awards scheme said its silver award presentations for Northern Ireland had been held at City Hall in Belfast for more than 20 years, and that “each year the awards are presented by the lord mayor”.
“The Army cadet force is one of a large number of youth organisations in Northern Ireland which makes the Duke of Edinburgh programme available to all young people,” they said.
“We are deeply saddened that this incident has overshadowed the tremendous achievement and voluntary contribution to the community by all young people who received awards on the evening.”