Belfast City Councillors took their opportunity on Thursday evening to scold and support the Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile, following his decision to only present half of the Duke of Edinburgh awards at a ceremony last Monday night, and in particular to avoid presenting the award to a young woman who was down in the programme as belonging to an Army Cadet Force.
A summons signed by 21 unionist councillors was submitted on Thursday and a special meeting is still scheduled to go ahead on Monday night at 6pm to consider their motion:
This Council is appalled that the Lord Mayor politicised the Duke of Edinburgh Awards presentation in the 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 the 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.
Given the words exchanged on Thursday night and the Lord Mayor’s apology, what possible good can come from Monday’s meeting going ahead?
One of the most vocal councillors on the issue tweeted on Thursday night:
Lord Mayor has apologised firmly and committed to representing everyone in the City. He was wrong. He accepts that. Glad we can move forward
we won this issue.You can’t ask him to apologise and then fail to accept when they do.He’ll be judged by his future actions
Mike Nesbitt, UUP MLA, who was present at the awards ceremony, issued a statement to “welcome the apology which has been issued by the Lord Mayor following his highly regrettable behaviour on Monday night”. He added “I obviously cannot speak for the unionist Councillors at City Hall who I know were greatly concerned at the damage done to the good name of the City and the position of Lord Mayor.”
The phrase “lose lose” was used this morning by one Belfast unionist to describe the consequences of Monday night’s meeting.
There may yet be time to withdraw the motion and “move forward” rather than engage what the public may perceive as over-reaction and could end up with unionist infighting. If there is a purpose to the special meeting going ahead, you’ll be able to find out through the Belfast City Council webcast.