Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

DUP object to Sinn Fein councillor's Celtic top worn under tracksuit at meeting

A row over a Londonderry councillor wearing a Celtic FC top to a meeting has ignited a wider clash over flags and emblems.

Sinn Fein and the DUP in Derry are now at loggerheads over what is appropriate attire when attending a council meeting.

The DUP delegation in Derry City Council has asked the chief executive to look into the matter.

In response, Sinn Fein accused the party of being “petty” and suggested it address the removal of “the sectarian and illegal flags adorning Newbuildings”.

Councillor Gary Middleton of the DUP described councillor Colin Kelly's choice of a Celtic football shirt as “inappropriate” attire for a council meeting.

He added: “I will accept that this meeting was closed to the public and to the Press, but even so it was an extremely important meeting and I think for a councillor to turn up in a football jersey is not appropriate. But that fact that it was a Celtic jersey was worse, given the divisive nature of Celtic.

“If this was an employee who turned up in either a Celtic or Rangers top they would not have been allowed in the door of the council, and as councillors we should be setting the example.

“I did not raise the matter at council on Wednesday because it was such a serious issue we were there to discuss, but I did mention it informally after the meeting to the town clerk, Sharon O'Connor, who assured me she will look into it.

“Like it or not, Celtic jerseys are deemed to be provocative and people can take offence.

“It is exactly the same with Rangers tops and many organisations within the council area do not allow people wearing either top to enter their premises.

“Derry City Council has a policy of flags and emblems and I feel this falls under that policy, this isn't even the first time councillor Kelly came to council wearing inappropriate clothing, he has attended meetings before wearing a GAA top.

“The casual look is fine, but there is a line and Celtic tops are on the wrong side of that line.”

Mr Kelly declined to respond to Mr Middleton.

However, a spokesman for Sinn Fein said: “Colin Kelly was wearing a Celtic jersey as an undergarment covered by a tracksuit. This was a private meeting and councillor Gary Middleton would be better suited in tackling the major issues facing the city rather than being petty, including removing the sectarian and illegal flags adorning Newbuildings.”

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