Belfast Telegraph

Lord Mayor wants office portraits to represent all sides of city

Civic duty: John Finucane
Civic duty: John Finucane

By Staff Reporter

The Lord Mayor of Belfast has said he isn't troubled by portraits of the royal family in his office in City Hall, but wants to see parity of representation.

John Finucane said he believes his office, which is currently decorated with portraits of the Queen, Prince Philip and the Queen Mother, needs to represent everyone in the city.

He has hung a copy of the UN Declaration of Human Rights to add to the 1916 Proclamation of Independence, which was added by his predecessor and fellow Sinn Fein councillor Deirdre Hargey.

The 39-year-old Lord Mayor has been in his role for six weeks and on his first day in office he welcomed Prince Charles to Belfast.

"I think there is a duty on whoever holds this office and wears this chain, whatever their political background, that when you are the first citizen of Belfast, it is a civic duty to be pushing reconciliation as much as possible," he said.

He said he believes the skills he learned in his career as a lawyer are transferable to a career in politics.

"You are there to represent people, to help your own community, to help people in the community and depending on the role that you're in, shape areas beyond your own community," he said.

"I think my career as a solicitor has given me a good grounding."

Mr Finucane explained that his family history - his solicitor father Pat was murdered by paramilitaries 30 years ago - has "exposed me to the worst politics can produce and the best".

He said that republicans were once "marginalised and demonised" in their own city.

Now, he said, Sinn Fein is the largest party on Belfast City Council.

The Lord Mayor added his own career will not be a flash in the pan.

"I don't think it's something you can dip your toes into," he said. "Either you're serious about this or you're not."

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