Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Let those who doubt Belfast's latest First Citizen judge him by his actions as he promises to bridge this city's divide

John Finucane
John Finucane

Editor's Viewpoint

It cannot be easy for John Finucane in his role as Lord Mayor of Belfast. The controversial murder of his father by loyalists 30 years ago and his membership of Sinn Fein means his every move is liable to intense scrutiny by political opponents.

Yet, as he says in an interview with this newspaper, he is determined to be a Lord Mayor for all. And he made a sure-footed start to his term of office by accompanying Prince Charles to view the burnt-out Primark building in the city centre.

Of all First Citizens of Belfast, he is in an unique position to identify with those who have been bereaved by the Troubles. He was only eight when, one Sunday in 1989, loyalist gunmen burst into his Belfast home and shot dead his father in front of him and the rest of the family, including his mother.

In the intervening 30 years the family has sought to have a public inquiry into the murder, a stance the Supreme Court backed this year while saying that investigations into the shooting were not effective. At the heart of the controversy is the sore of collusion between loyalist terrorists and the security forces.

While there must by sympathy for what Mr Finucane has endured over those 30 years, there will be those who will point out he has chosen to join a party, Sinn Fein, which has some senior members who were directly involved in violence during the dark days of the Troubles.

Mr Finucane's answer is that while he does not deny his own politics, the role of Lord Mayor should be above party politics. It is not a role which is in the gift of Sinn Fein, he argues, and he has a very simple test for those who doubt his ability to be 'Mayor for All'.

"Judge me at the end of my term" is his challenge to would-be detractors, and they would be hard-pressed to find fault with how he has performed the role since donning the Lord Mayor's chain. Hopefully he will continue in the same vein because Belfast and Northern Ireland need more bridge builders.

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