Belfast Telegraph

Damage to Belfast City Hall toilet not caused by fight, says Sinn Fein

By JOANNE SWEENEY

Sinn Fein has denied all knowledge of a drunken brawl in the men's toilets at Belfast City Hall, after the DUP accused guests at the party's Christmas bash of causing £1,500 worth of damage.

The festive party – an annual thank-you to Sinn Fein's activists and hosted in its own rooms – was alleged by councillor Lee Reynolds to have turned into an episode of "drink-fuelled fighting" in which an urinal was ripped from the toilet wall.

The DUP group leader also claimed that the toilets were closed to the public for a week afterwards as a result of the damage.

However, Sinn Fein councillor Jim McVeigh last night accused Mr Reynolds of stirring the pot.

"Contrary to the DUP, a good evening of celebration was enjoyed by all who attended," he said.

"The following day it was discovered that at some point during the previous evening, some damage was done to the public toilets.

"We do not know who was responsible for any damage or whether it was malicious or accidental.

"And contrary to mischievous reports, the toilets were not smashed."

Mr McVeigh added that Sinn Fein hosts the party at its own expense and that it would be "only too happy to co-operate" with any council investigation into the damaged caused.

A City Hall spokesman confirmed last night that the urinal had already been replaced but declined to comment on the cost of the repair to the toilets, which are used by staff and visitors.

He said he was unaware that Mr Reynolds had called for a probe into the incident.

"If it is possible to identify the culprits then charges should be brought," said Mr Reynolds.

"Every political party is responsible for the guests it invites into City Hall.

"This is a beautiful and historic building enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors every year and it should be treated with respect, not abused."

PROFILE

Completed in 1906, Belfast City Hall first opened its doors for business on August 1 and cost less than £500,000 to build. The building in Donegall Square has become a social and cultural hub for the city as well as the centre of local government. It mixes the daily business of politics, tourism, and the registration of births, deaths, marriages and civil partnership easily under its magnificent dome.

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