Leapfrogging mayor 'devastated' after injuring council worker
The Lord Mayor of Belfast said today he was "deeply sorry" after severely injuring a council worker during a promotional photo shoot.
Jim Rodgers is understood to have left the employee with severe back injuries after he tried to leap-frog over her for photographers.
Lorraine Mallon, who works for the arts section of Belfast City Council's development department, suffered a slipped disc and has not been able to return to work since the shoot last month.
Ms Mallon, who has worked for the council for two years, was dressed as a tomato to launch a gourmet garden event in Botanic Gardens last month.
It is believed Mr Rodgers accidentally struck her with his knee as he tried to vault over her.
He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I have been absolutely devastated over what has happened.
"There were a number of false runs by myself. Unfortunately there had been a shower of rain, the grass was damp and it was just an accident.
"I have kept in regular touch with the girl. My thoughts and prayers are with her, and I wish her a full and speedy recovery."
It is believed the accident happened in front of a group of visiting Japanese tourists.
Added Mr Rodgers: "Accidents happen. They happen on the road all too frequently, they happen in the home, in any area of life and it is not until after the event that you ask yourself 'should I have done something different'?
"I regularly appraise myself as a person and my performance as Lord Mayor. Perhaps it is not a good idea to judge yourself, but I think it has to be done from time to time.
"I am sufficiently experienced, I am extremely fit and it was one of those things unfortunately.
"I am really very, very unhappy about what happened."
Mr Rodgers, an experienced councillor, is well used to publicity.
He added: "Photographers today always want something different. Years ago you could have just stood beside someone or you may have been dressed up but now they are always looking for something more."
Mr Rodgers said the council had a duty of care to protect all of its workers.