Belfast Telegraph

Loyalists rally to demand Belfast mayor quits

By John Mulgrew

Around 200 demonstrators gathered outside the back gates of Belfast City Hall last night to protest against the Lord Mayor's "snub" of a young Army cadet.

Banners and Union flags were displayed as people of all ages showed their opposition to Niall O Donnghaile's refusal to present a Duke of Edinburgh award to the teenage girl.

The Sinn Fein politician has since apologised for his actions although last night's protesters still demanded his resignation.

Mary Fairfield (68) from east Belfast said her family had a strong military background. She said she was "disgusted" with Mr O Donnghaile.

"He's supposed to represent everybody in Belfast. He couldn't give a child that was in the cadets The Duke of Edinburgh's Award," she said.

"He has to go. We don't want him now. People from Northern Ireland don't want him and we're disgusted with him."

Another group of women from the Donegall Road also called for Mr O Donnghaile to step down.

Gwen Kilpatrick (46) said: "We feel the Lord Mayor of Belfast is supposed to represent all the citizens of Belfast. Personally speaking, he doesn't represent me. Anyone can say they are sorry, but do they really mean it?"

Among the many protesting peacefully, sectarian chants were heard and groups of youths, faces covered by scarves, pinned Union flags to the outside of the building.

Ulster Unionist East Belfast MLA Michael Copeland, who attended the protest, said the Lord Mayor's actions were "silly, regrettable and unnecessary".

"I think he needs to take a very long look at his ability to satisfactorily represent all the people of this city," he said.

Asked whether the sectarian chants could undermine the protest, he added: "The way people behave in a mass is not the way they behave as individuals."

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