Belfast Telegraph

Watch: When nature calls, Belfast gents say it is difficult to ignore


Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

Appropriately enough the weather was wet. Water was gushing through the gutters. Shoes were damp.

And for the most part yesterday the people of north Belfast were keeping their views zipped up tight.

While the issue of urinating in the street might not be the most pleasant topic of conversation, there was no doubt - for men at least - that sometimes you simply can't hold what you haven't got in your hand.

It's not that people were condoning the actions of Belfast Lord Mayor John Finucane, it's more that there was a reluctant understanding that sometimes, when needs must, you just gotta go.

Corin Keys
Corin Keys

Those sentiments were mainly from men who admitted their past indiscretions but, they conceded, hadn't been caught in the act.

That wasn't the case for Belfast's First Citizen in June. Now also Sinn Fein's North Belfast Westminster candidate, Mr Finucane admitted to being "very embarrassed and deeply sorry" after being sanctioned by police for indecent behaviour.

The problem is, had this been a female politician - say Mr Finucane's Sinn Fein colleague Michelle O'Neill who said yesterday the issue was "done and dusted" - would there have been a similar attitude of flushing it away without any more thought?

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"Sure everybody does it," was the initial reaction of Anto, who gave no surname, as he hurried past.

But he paused.

"Then again, I'm not the Lord Mayor," he said.

In Belfast city centre the controversy did raise another issue. Just what are you supposed to do if you're in desperate need of facilities late at night? For Paul Caughey, the only option presenting itself was popping into a pub.

"At night time your only option is to nip into a local bar, though they don't really approve of that. The options are limited."

That's the problem. There are plenty of places to conduct your urgent business in daytime. After hours is more complicated.

"I remember when there used to be steps down to toilets outside the City Hall," said Mr Caughey.

"I'm sure a lot of people would have used them, but when you think about it there are not a lot of places to go, particularly once Victoria Square and CastleCourt close down for the evening."

Corin Keys was strumming his guitar under the cover of Pottinger's Entry.

He had some advice should Mr Finucane find himself in a similar predicament in the future.

"Maybe he should have spent a bit more time having a look around to find a darker, more secluded spot? Or gone into a bar?" he said.

Questions may be raised about the timing of the leak, coming as the election campaign gets into full flow.

"Doesn't matter to me. I won't be swayed," said north Belfast man Mark White.

There was general agreement elsewhere.

"Nope, not bothered," said another lady huddled under her umbrella, more concerned about the rain lashing down from above.

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