Guest Speaker- Lord Mayor of Belfast Cllr Niall O’Donnghaile
The Lord Mayor came along with a BBC documentary crew, who are currently following him. They filmed the proceedings of the meeting, some of which may appear in the final documentary when it airs in September 2012.
The Lord Mayor gave a short statement in which he briefly outlined his year as Lord Mayor. He then gave his feelings on how 2012 would be for the city of Belfast.
He then took questions on a wide variety of topics;
Q- Does he feel the Irish Language has been overly politicised, does he feel Sinn Fein have any part to play in this?
A- The Lord Mayor felt the language was politicised whenever it was denied equal status. He felt the language would play an important part of our shared future, as it has been our shared past.
Q-Will Sinn Fein release any documents that would implicate them as, “murderers” during investigations in the past?
A- The Lord Mayor felt it would be difficult to predict. He asked if any government would release information that did so.
Q- Has being young been a help or a hindrance in the role of Lord Mayor?
A- The Lord Mayor felt that Sinn Fein choosing a young Lord Mayor was a proactive and symbolic use of the office, as it recognised the role of young people in the city.
Q- Is being Lord Mayor of a divided City a positive experience?
A- The Lord Mayor said his short answer was that he didn’t know. He felt that the unionism/nationalism divide is not, and need not be, a negative thing as both are positive and totally legitimate political views.
Q- What is your opinion on the dissolving of the Department of Employment and Learning?
A- The Lord Mayor felt there was too much bureaucracy at Stormont and that DEL didn’t need to exist as a separate department.
Q-Is it hard to be Lord Mayor as a member of a hard-line party?
A- The Lord Mayor felt it could be a challenge, and stated that he had been challenged both personally and politically. However the Lord Mayor felt these challenges were a good thing.