Building Belfast One Laugh at a Time
But last evening we also had a productive meeting of Council which, despite, of course, political disagreement, was held in a workmanlike atmosphere.
This is the statement I read at the top of the meeting, after I had read an excerpt from The Prayer for Belfast in its Jewish and Christian versions. This is the first time a Jewish prayer has been read at a Council meeting and was in recognition of my chaplain Rabbi David Singer, who was inducted to his position as Rabbi of Belfast last week.
“Members, We had a difficult end to last month’s Council meeting. I wanted to start tonight by reiterating my conviction that the authority of the chair should be respected by all members.
“Equally, the chair must behave in a respectful manner towards every councillor. I pledge to do so.
“Members should reflect on how their behaviour enhances or diminishes the authority of the chamber. In particular, the taking of photos is not something I would encourage.
“We have no dress code but members should also consider whether their mode of dress reflects the dignity of the office they hold.
“Finally, this is a political forum and we should and will have impassioned and sometimes heated debate. It is my intent to facilitate that debate even as we all remain mindful of the fact that our audience is wider than this chamber and how intemperate words here can have consequences across this great city.
“Welcome to the April meeting of Belfast City Council.”
Earlier in the day, I donned my Batman costume for the UTV April Fools’ Day prank, which you can see here, and also wore it across to the launch of the Festival of Fools. Running from 2-5 May, the Festival of Fools, now in its tenth year, is building Belfast one laugh at a time. I’m a big fan.