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Belfast's lord mayor Niall O Donnghaile lends a hand at a paella stand on his first engagement at the spring continental market at City Hall

Belfast's lord mayor Niall O Donnghaile lends a hand at a paella stand on his first engagement at the spring continental market at City Hall

Belfast's new lord mayor Niall O Donnghaile has urged his deputy to stop snubbing him and work with him to improve the city

Belfast's new lord mayor Niall O Donnghaile has urged his deputy to stop snubbing him and work with him to improve the city

Belfast's lord mayor Niall O Donnghaile with a dancer at the spring continental market at City Hall

Belfast's lord mayor Niall O Donnghaile with a dancer at the spring continental market at City Hall

Belfast's lord mayor Niall O Donnghaile lends a hand at a paella stand on his first engagement at the spring continental market at City Hall

Belfast's new first citizen has urged the city's deputy mayor to stop snubbing him and work with him to improve the city.

Sinn Fein's Niall O Donnghaile, who has become City Hall's youngest ever lord mayor at the age of 25, said he was disappointed at the attitude of the DUP's Ruth Patterson when she ignored him after their joint appointment.

Mrs Patterson, who was elected as deputy mayor at the same meeting on Thursday night, refused to acknowledge Mr O Donnghaile and apparently has not decided whether to talk to him during their time in office together.

"It's a disappointing tone to set at the beginning of the year as mayor and deputy mayor," he said. "But it's more a question for the deputy mayor.

"As I said during my contribution last night at the council meeting, the door of this place (his office) is open to all council members from whatever political party so I am prepared to work with all the members, so that obviously includes the deputy mayor as well and I am looking forward to the year ahead and hopefully we can work together for everyone."

The Sinn Fein council rookie and fluent Irish speaker, who was elected as a first time member only three weeks ago, said the episode had surprised him given what he said were cordial relations between Sinn Fein and the DUP in the Stormont Assembly, where he previously worked as a press officer.

"I did speak to the deputy mayor last night. I congratulated her and wished her well for her year in office and it was she who refused to engage with me, so the question needs to be put to her," he added.

In response to the controversy, Mrs Patterson's party defended her record as a councillor.

"Ruth Patterson has been a councillor for more than 10 years," said head of the DUP council group Robin Newton.

"She knows how council meetings should be conducted and what the protocol is for such occasions. She will be a fine ambassador for our city and brings a wealth of experience and dynamism to the role which others can only aspire to."

PA