Linfield scarf sparks row in council

Published Tuesday, 04 March 2014
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A row erupted during Monday's Belfast City Council meeting, when DUP councillor Ruth Patterson put on a Linfield scarf to propose a motion to recognise Blues manager David Jeffrey.

Linfield scarf sparks row in council
Cllr Patterson wore a Linfield scarf to table a motion about David Jeffrey. (© UTV)

Councillor Patterson put forward the proposal after Jeffrey, who has managed the Blues for more than 17 years, announced last month that he was stepping down at the end of the season.

She paid tribute to him for his commitment as a football manager and also a social worker.

However, Sinn Féin councillor Jim McVeigh took exception to Ms Patterson donning the scarf.

"I'm just wondering is it appropriate for a member to be wearing a football scarf in this house. We do have workplace legislation which does prohibit the wearing of football regalia," he commented.

"The member here has a track record, this is the second scarf she has worn."

DUP Deputy Lord Mayor Christopher Stalford told the councillor there was no provision for him to tell members what they can or cannot wear.

But the discussion became heated when Mr McVeigh called for second opinion from the council's legal officer and refused to let the matter rest.

Councillor Stalford told him to "sit down and stop acting like a petulant child" and added that he had turned the meeting into a "circus".

The council Chief Executive, updating Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, who had stepped out to attend a charity photo opportunity, said that if Councillor McVeigh had an issue of concern he "can raise it at committee where we will get the appropriate legal advice".

The motion was passed to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee for consideration.

Speaking on Tuesday, Councillor McVeigh acknowledged there was unanimous support for the motion and he wished Blues manager Jeffrey well but he said Ms Patterson's decision to wear the football scarf had "brought the council into disrepute".

He said: "Football is quite divisive in this city. Can you imagine Peter Robinson wearing a Rangers scarf to the assembly? Can you imagine Alex Salmond wearing a Celtic top to the Scottish assembly?

"These are quite divisive issues. The reason our council staff are banned from wearing football tops or scarves is because of those reasons, so why should politicians be exempt from that?"

The Deputy Lord Mayor also commented on Tuesday that the councillor's behaviour had been an "overreaction".

"I think it's actually pathetic that we as a council are getting headlines for all the wrong reasons and it's entirely because Jim McVeigh is entirely incapable of behaving in a civilised fashion during a council meeting," he said.

"I think in the context of Alderman Patterson, I think it's important to note she was not wearing a Linfield scarf throughout the council, when she got up to speak on a motion about Linfield Football Club, which has its headquarters in her council area, an area she has represented for the past 14 years, she put the scarf on."

© UTV News
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74 Comments
John in Creggan wrote (238 days ago):
Ruth knew that no objections would be made against her motion to honour DJ so it would seem that wearing the scarf was designed to cause a reaction, councillor McVeigh should not have taken the bait and made his objection outside the chamber. Linfield has Catholic players & supporters so it would seem odd that some comments suggest councillor McVeigh was being anti Protestant/British. I know of no other sport with paramilitary affiliations or hands out medals on behalf of them, but I know a sport that has trophy's named after Protestants, Sam Maguire or recognise the make up of Ulster in The Anglo-Celt cup, Liam MacCarthy born in London.
Ady in Cookstown wrote (238 days ago):
@ Magowan..." Councillor mcVeigh should have sat in his seat and said nothing ". Bad news my friend, THEM DAYS ARE OVER. GET USED TO IT !
john in Antrim wrote (238 days ago):
Observer in UK. I would ask you, Why do people get their knickers in a twist over a flag?
John in USA wrote (239 days ago):
Never even heard of Linfield FC, they can't be that brilliant!
Steffan in Belfast wrote (239 days ago):
Well done and well deserved Davey Jeffrey. Ruth Patterson you are a complete muppet and an embarrassment to your constituents. Unfortunately this type of childish behaviour is all to prevalent in NI politics. So sad.
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