Belfast Telegraph

Belfast City Hall row over motion condemning mayor attack

BY REBECCA BLACK

A fresh row has broken out between the DUP and Sinn Fein at Belfast City Council over a motion condemning the attack on Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir in Woodvale Park earlier this month.

Sinn Fein plans to propose the motion, which says the Lord Mayor should be able to attend events across the city in safety, at the next meeting of the full council on Monday evening.

However, the DUP has indicated it will not support the motion, and accused Sinn Fein of "political point-scoring".

It will instead table an amendment condemning a number of negative events that took place in the city this summer.

Mr O Muilleoir had been attending the reopening of Woodvale Park in north Belfast following a refurbishment programme when he came under attack by loyalists. He was left bruised after the encounter on Tuesday, August 6, but vowed he would continue to attend events across the city.

The PSNI said at the time that nine police officers were injured as they escorted him to safety.

The reopening of the park had to be abandoned due to the scenes.

The DUP at the time said it had urged Mr O Muilleoir not to attend the event due to high tensions in the area following the banning of an Orange parade past the Ardoyne shops on July 12.

It has now emerged that the DUP will not support a motion condemning the attack on Mr O Muilleoir.

The Sinn Fein motion calls for the council to "reaffirm its total and absolute commitment to exclusively democratic and peaceful means of resolving political issues", adding that it supported the right of people to hold a peaceful protest.

It concludes: "We condemn the attack on the Lord Mayor and the PSNI and the treatment of council staff during the incident at Woodvale Park and extend to them all the support of this council for their work on behalf of the citizens of this great city.

"We affirm the right of the Lord Mayor to attend events and carry out civic duties in any parts of the city when and where he or she is invited."

DUP group leader on the council Lee Reynolds (right) said his party planned to table to amendment to the motion.

He told the Belfast Telegraph this amendment will cover all the events of the summer which have caused problems, such as an attack on the July 12 parade, an increase in interface tensions and families being intimidated out of their homes.

Mr Reynolds also criticised Mr O Muilleoir for not taking part in Armed Forces Day-related events.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Reynolds accused Sinn Fein of "political point-scoring" with their motion.

"The DUP recognises that there were a range of events over the summer months in our city that everyone should reflect upon," he said. "It is vital we tackle this negative cycle and provide a better present and successful future for our citizens.

"We believe that to focus on one single event rather than the full range of issues smacks of political point-scoring and one upmanship.

"Neither will serve the city well. As such the party intends to table an amendment to the motion in order to reflect this view."

Sinn Fein councillor Conor Maskey said he felt confident that his party will have the support for the motion to be passed.

"It's not surprising ,although it's disappointing," he said.

Ulster Unionist councillor David Browne said his party has yet to make a decision on whether it will back the Sinn Fein motion, back the DUP amendment or propose its own amendment.

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