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Glentoran Belfast City Hall invite gives councillor the blues

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Alliance Councillor Sian Mulholland

Alliance Councillor Sian Mulholland

Alliance Councillor Sian Mulholland

Belfast's Lord Mayor is set to host Irish Cup winners Glentoran for a special City Hall event - despite protests from a Linfield-supporting councillor.

At this week's remote special meeting of Belfast City Council, east Belfast Alliance Councillor Sian Mulholland proposed the event in memory of a former colleague - the late, long-serving Alliance councillor Mervyn Jones who died in 2017.

She said: "Anyone who knew him would know he was one of the most passionate Glentoran fans that there could be.

"With that in mind I would like to request, when regulations and circumstances allow, that we could potentially on a future date invite the team that made that brilliant Irish Cup win over Ballymena United, to celebrate it in the Lord Mayor's parlour."

Lord Mayor Frank McCoubrey said he was "happy" to host the event. However, west Belfast PUP councillor Billy Hutchinson said the local authority "had to be very careful" with such invitations.

He added: "Linfield have just won the Irish League Championship, they're also in Europe, and going further than any other Irish League clubs. Other people want their teams in, Cliftonville, or whoever.

"If we do this, we'll have to do it for other teams as well."

The Lord Mayor said he had not been asked to host any other club, and would accept Ms Mulholland's proposal.

Mr Hutchinson went on: "The point I'm making is you're setting a precedent - if this goes ahead then you will be inundated with people wanting to come in."

He said it was "funny that we invite the cup winners in, while the real winners of the league haven't been invited in".

Sinn Fein councillor Ciaran Beattie told Mr Hutchinson: "You're biased because you're a Blues man."

Mr Jones was also a passionate Sunderland and Northern Ireland supporter.

Belfast Telegraph