Belfast Telegraph

DUP mayor refuses to open Nelson Mandela book of condolence

By Adrian Rutherford

A DUP mayor has been criticised after she refused to open a book of condolence for Nelson Mandela.

Margaret Tolerton, who is the mayor of Lisburn City Council, rejected requests for a book for people to pay tribute to the former South African President.

Tributes have flooded in after the death of the anti-apartheid leader last week, with condolence books opened at council offices across Northern Ireland.

However, TUV chief Jim Allister said Mr Mandela had left "a trail of victims".

Mrs Tolerton (55), who has served on the council for six years, told the Belfast Telegraph she was "too busy" to discuss the matter.

A statement said: "The mayor of Lisburn, councillor Margaret Tolerton, received a request to open a book of condolence for Nelson Mandela and after consideration decided not to open a book of condolence on this occasion."

Alliance Party councillor Brian Dornan, who had called for a book of condolence, said he did not understand the decision.

"I have always been an admirer of Nelson Mandela and I felt we should recognise his contribution to the world," he said. "The case is overwhelming for this.

"I am very disappointed that we will not have an opportunity to do this and I feel we have failed as a city to communicate the great regard which most people have for Mr Mandela."

Sinn Fein councillor David Bell, who also requested a book of condolence, said: "I can't see the logic behind it – it is hardly a political football and hasn't been a big issue between the parties.

"Given what Nelson Mandela achieved, the fact so many other councils opened books of condolence and the amount of tributes, it is extremely disappointing that Lisburn City Council has decided not to do anything."

The DUP did not respond to requests for comment. Mr Mandela passed away last Thursday aged 95. He will be buried tomorrow at his ancestral home in Qunu. On Tuesday, tens of thousands of South Africans joined scores of world leaders for a national memorial service.

Earlier this week, the UUP asked why Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness represented the Northern Ireland Executive at the service.

PROFILE

Margaret Tolerton is a DUP councillor for Dunmurry Cross. She was co-opted on to the council in February 2007, and is the current mayor. She was employed in the Northern Ireland Civil Service for 31 years before retiring in 2003 and now works part-time for Orange Community Network, which assists community groups who meet in Orange halls.

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