Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Derry centre chief defends attending Martin McGuinness rally

The Ulster Unionist party in Londonderry has accused the City Centre Manager of compromising his position by appearing on the platform of a send-off party for Martin McGuinness as he launched his Irish presidential campaign.

The UUP’s Foyle branch chairman Terry Wright has written to Jim Roddy demanding that he explain why he accepted an invitation to chair the event for Mr McGuinness.

In his letter, Mr Wright asked: “Is it deemed appropriate for the chief executive to identify himself so closely with a political figure and in effect become part of an election campaign?

“In view of his clear political preference, as expressed, how will the chief executive ensure his impartiality when addressing issues which may be a matter of communal and/or political differences?”

Defending his actions, Mr Roddy said his appearance on the platform was purely personal but his main reason for doing so was the potential benefits to the city that would come if Mr McGuinness' campaign was successful.

He said: “I am speaking here without having actually seen the letter that Terry Wright has sent and so I don't yet know what is being levelled at me, but Terry knows my door is always open to him so I am quite surprised by that I found out about this from the media. I am very proud to be from Derry/Londonderry, whatever people want to call the city, I have no difficulty with either name.

“I said it on the night and I will say it again, my appearance on the platform was in a purely personal capacity and I would have done exactly the same for anyone from the city who was going for any major accolade that could reap benefits for the city.”

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Wright insisted that as Mr Roddy’s position is funded by public money he should maintain a neutral stand on all things political.

He added: “Jim Roddy’s position is funded by public money and while I recognise he has the right to vote for whoever he wants in private, in public he should not be seen to be endorsing a political party.”

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