Belfast Telegraph

Belfast city council 'hate' claim as attack on mayor is condemned

By Rebecca Black

Belfast city councillors have united to condemn an attack on the city's Lord Mayor after some last minute negotiations.

However one veteran councillor claimed there was "hatred" in the chamber despite the agreement.

Sinn Fein had put forward a motion slamming the attack on Mairtin O Muilleoir at Woodvale last month as he attempted to perform the official reopening of a park after a major upgrade scheme funded by the council.

The ceremony had to be called off as the Lord Mayor was attacked by loyalists.

The DUP indicated it would refuse to support the Sinn Fein motion at the council's monthly meeting last night.

All parties agreed to support a new last minute motion comprising nine principles, including a commitment to the rule of law, and condemning the attack on the Lord Mayor and on police.

Whereas the original Sinn Fein motion affirmed the right of the Lord Mayor to attend events in any part of the city to which he was invited, the new agreed motion, added the line "and to exercise the right responsibility".

Sinn Fein group leader Jim McVeigh told the meeting that he was going to chose his words carefully because he is "conscious of the Haass initiative", referring to the imminent talks with US diplomat Richard Haass over resolving tensions.

DUP group leader Lee Reynolds listed a number of violent incidents over the summer.

The motion was passed unanimously. But veteran Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers insisted: "This is the worst council I have ever been on because there is hatred here."

Earlier, Sinn Fein abstained on a vote over sending congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of Prince George. Other parties, including the SDLP, voted in favour.

DUP councillor Brian Kingston said he found it "regrettable" that the message will not be in the name of the Lord Mayor.

It will be sent in the name of Deputy Lord Mayor Christopher Stalford of the DUP.

STORY SO FAR

There was an outcry when images of Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir getting attacked by loyalists as he attempted to attend the reopening of Woodvale Park were beamed across the world. However, DUP councillors criticised the decision of the mayor to attend the event and said they had urged him not to because of tensions in the area.

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