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Belfast mayor calls for all frontline workers to be given Freedom of the City

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Proposal: Lord Mayor Daniel Baker

Proposal: Lord Mayor Daniel Baker

Proposal: Lord Mayor Daniel Baker

Belfast's Lord Mayor has proposed that frontline workers should receive the Freedom of the City to recognise their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Daniel Baker said he has written to all the party group leaders on the city council to canvass support for the move.

He said frontline workers should include all those providing essential services through the coronavirus pandemic, such as those working in food production, transport and refuse collection as well as health staff.

It has also been announced that City Hall will light up in NHS blue to mark International Nurses' Day next Tuesday, May 12.

Mr Baker said: "These are truly unprecedented times for all in society as we continue to battle against Covid-19.

"Those on the front line of that battle; our healthcare workers, to those working in shops, food production, bin collection, transport and all other essential services, rightly deserve to be recognised.

"I have written to the party group leaders in Belfast City Council to request their support to award the Freedom of the City to all of these invaluable stalwarts. Without the tireless and dedicated work of our frontline workers we would be in a much bleaker place than we are today."

The Freedom of Belfast was bestowed on nurses in 2016.

The move to turn City Hall blue next Tuesday comes after it was illuminated in red to mark International Workers' Day on May 1 as a tribute to all frontline workers.

Mr Baker added: "I'm delighted that we will be lighting up City Hall to mark International Nurses' Day as a tribute to all those men and women, and thank them for their commitment and dedication as they help in the battle against Covid-19."

Meanwhile, the DUP is calling for health care workers across the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon council area to be honoured with the Freedom of the Borough.

In a joint statement, DUP councillors from across the borough urged the council to mark the contribution in a "manner that reflects the borough's gratitude".

"The coronavirus has had a huge effect on the borough and our thoughts are firstly with those who have suffered bereavement due to the Covid-19 pandemic and we also send our best wishes to those currently in hospital fighting this virus," they said.

"Given the seismic contribution made by those working in our hospitals and care facilities in standing on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19, we feel it is important this very brave and courageous contribution is recognised by our council when the time is right to do so.

"We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to health care workers across the borough and we salute them all.

"God willing, when the public health environment allows, this council can mark this contribution in a manner that reflects the borough's gratitude."

The Freedom of the Borough is the highest civic honour a council can bestow.

Belfast Telegraph