Row over Linfield scarf set to go into extra time

DUP councillor Ruth Patterson
DUP councillor Ruth Patterson

The DUP have called on Belfast Sinn Fein councillor Jim McVeigh to make a full public apology for his part in Monday night’s council row over a Linfield scarf.

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Mr McVeigh objected after the DUP’s Ruth Patterson put on the football scarf whilst speaking on a motion calling for Belfast City Council to honour outgoing Blues manager David Jeffrey.

He said his objection was not to the motion – which has been passed to a council committee for discussion – but to the wearing of the scarf.

Speaking yesterday, DUP leader on Belfast City Council, Lee Reynolds, said: “The ball is now in Jim McVeigh’s court.

“We have asked for him to apologise to the Lord Mayor, the Deputy Lord Mayor, Alderman Patterson and to David Jeffrey.

“We will see if he has the common decency to publicly apologise. The attack was in full view of the public so a public apology is appropriate.”

But the prospect of Mr McVeigh saying “sorry” appeared slim last night after he issued the followed comments.

“Ruth Patterson is an embarrassment not just to Belfast City Council but privately to her DUP colleagues,” he said.

“Nobody seriously elects their councillors to stand up in the chamber wrapped in football scarves.”

Earlier, Alderman Patterson told the News Letter that she “did not expect the rumpus” that unfolded at Belfast City Council’s monthly meeting on Monday night.

“I asked the Deputy Lord Mayor [DUP Councillor Christopher Stalford] for his indulgence regarding putting on the scarf and that was granted,” she said.

“I was four paragraphs from finishing my motion and all of a sudden Jim McVeigh decided to jump up and cause the rumpus that he caused.

“For whatever reason he watched me put the scarf on in recognition of a gentleman who has contributed greatly to league football.

“He [David Jeffrey] is an exemplary gentleman who has the greatest respect for his players and his club and for the fans who follow the team. It was done out of respect for David Jeffrey and he [Mr McVeigh] chose to discredit that motion, and shame on him for doing so.”

She added that the Linfield manager “has not been in touch today but I know he was very pleased the motion was going before council”.

A Belfast City Council spokesman yesterday confirmed that the council’s chief executive had received a letter from Mr McVeigh “expressing Sinn Fein’s concern at Alderman Patterson’s wearing of a football scarf”.

The letter asks for “clarification on the council’s policy in this regard and to seek the advice of the Equality Commission NI on this matter”.

Northern Ireland Conservatives spokesman Mark Brotherston last night said: “The council chamber of Northern Ireland’s capital city was turned into a primary school playground. It’s hard to know who was more pathetic.”