Belfast mayor John Finucane has been referred to watchdog over indecent behaviour

TUV leader Jim Allister has written to the standards watchdog after Belfast’s Lord Mayor was sanctioned by police for urinating in the street.

Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 11:14 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 5:23 pm
Belfast Lord Mayor, Councillor John Finucane

John Finucane has apologised after a newspaper report revealed he had been “caught short” in the city centre on June 29 this year.

The Sinn Fein general election candidate for North Belfast said he had “tried to find somewhere as discreet as possible off the main street,” but was approached and spoken to by PSNI officers at the scene.

The indecent behaviour was dealt with by way of Community Resolution Notice – used to dispose of minor offence cases without the need for formal prosecution.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mr Finucane, who was installed as lord mayor just weeks earlier, confirmed to the Belfast Telegraph that he had accepted the resolution notice.

“I am of course very embarrassed and deeply sorry about this incident and I apologise unreservedly,” he said.

However, Mr Allister has now written to the Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards about the incident.

The letter states: “As you are aware the Code of Conduct states in section 4.1 that councillors ‘must act lawfully’.

“Section 4.2 reminds councillors that ‘you must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your position as a councillor, or your council, into disrepute’.”

He added: “I contend that Councillor Finucane has manifestly failed to maintain the standards of the Code of Conduct and that the gravity of the offence is magnified by the fact that he was holding the post of Lord Mayor when it was committed.

“Accordingly I invite you to initiate an investigation into the matter.”

A spokesman for the Commissioner said: “We have received an enquiry which is being assessed under our normal procedures.”

The PSNI has said that Community Resolution Notices (CRN) “seek to prevent re-offending by encouraging an offender to think about their behaviour and it is most appropriate for offenders who have little or no previous relevant offending history.”

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Whilst there is a list of lower level offences, which is used by officers along with additional guidance, that dictates when a CRN may be appropriate, there are other factors involved in the decision making process before a CRN will be issued.

“The offending history, the views of victims and the acceptance of responsibility for the offence are all considered before a decision to issue a CRN is made”.

Sinn Fein was asked if Mr Finucane had referred himself to the commissioner for standards.

A party spokesperson replied: “This latest stunt by Mr Allister is in marked contrast with his deafening silence on the campaign of threats, vilification and demonisation of John Finucane and family.”