Irish Republican News · June 2, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Unionists angry at loss of Mayoral positions

Sinn Féin councillor Joe O’Donnell was voted in as deputy Mayor of Belfast last night with the support of the Alliance party, who took the Mayoral position.

At a fractious and turbulent meeting at the closely-divided City Hall, Tom Ekin of the cross-community Alliance party was elected Mayor with the help of Sinn Féin support.

Ekin won out over Ulster Unionist Chris McGimpsey and the DUP’s Eric Smith only on the casting vote of outgoing Mayor, Martin Morgan of the SDLP.

The dismayed unionist parties then went into uproar as the newly elected Mayor used his casting vote to elect the Sinn Féin man as his deputy.

Ulster Unionist Eric Smith shouted “Your hands are covered in blood, you shameless traitor.” The DUP’s Ruth Patterson shouted at the Alliance party “We will not forget this. Your days are numbered.” DUP Councillor Sammy Wilson also engaged in the screaming match, but the newly elected Mayor dismissed the carry-on as showmanship.

Speaking about the election of Mr O’Donnell, Mr Ekin said, “I hope he does a good job. We need a break away from this system of tribal voting.” He promised to make ethnic minorities feel more at home.

Mr O’Donnell also welcomed his election saying, “What this city needs now is everyone working together and we as a party intend to play our part.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News