30 April 2012 Edition
Sinn Féin Mayor’s move agreed last year with unionists
BELFAST TELEGRAPH SENSATIONALISM ABOUT ‘SNUB’ TO JUBILEE CELEBRATIONS ‘RIDICULOUS’
“Contrary to this being a snub to anyone, rather we were trying to accommodate unionists. We were conscious that the Jubilee celebrations are a big deal for unionists and therefore we offered to accommodate them."
BELFAST MAYOR Niall Ó Donnghaile is leaving his post a few days early to allow a DUP Mayor to take up office in time for the Jubilee celebrations. The decision was agreed with the DUP 12 months ago, making nonsense of a Belfast Telegraph splash that it is a “snub” to unionists.
Sinn Féin Belfast City Council leader Jim McVeigh told An Phoblacht:
“For the Belfast Telegraph to suggest that he had chosen to ‘snub’ the British queen was ridiculous and offensive. It was, above all else, unfair to a young man who has done his absolute best to be a good mayor and a mayor to all the citizens of this great city.”
Jim pointed out that there’s no indication that any member of the British royal family, never mind the queen herself, will be visiting Belfast that week.
“To be accused by the Telegraph of refusing to do something that he hadn’t been asked to do in the first place was wrong and unfair to the Mayor. The lead headline (‘Belfast’s Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile to quit post early to avoid meeting Queen on Jubilee visit’) was a badly chosen one.”
The Sinn Féin council group leader added:
“Contrary to this being a snub to anyone, rather we were trying to accommodate unionists. We were conscious that the Jubilee celebrations are a big deal for unionists and therefore we offered to accommodate them.
“Ironically, at the time of those discussions, Niall might not have been aware that Sinn Féin had chosen him to take up the role.”
Sinn Féin — which is the largest party on Belfast City Council — has also voted in favour of providing funding to communities holding Jubilee celebrations in their area. Councillor McVeigh said this decision was taken because republicans recognise that events such as this are hugely symbolic for unionist and loyalist communities even though “we as republicans are obviously not keen to celebrate the Jubilee in any shape or form”.
He described Niall Ó Donnghaile’s tenure as mayor as “a breath of fresh air” for Belfast.
“He has given great leadership at a time of great economic distress. Almost single-handedly he has helped change the perception of this city abroad: from a depressed city emerging from conflict to a vibrant, dynamic and modern city well worth investing in and well worth a visit. Credit where credit is due and Niall Ó Donnghaile deserves a great deal of credit for his year in office.”