Northern Ireland news

Belfast mayor John Finucane referred to watchdog for urinating in street

Sinn Féin councillor and Belfast lord mayor John Finucane at city hall. Picture by Hugh Russell
Brendan Hughes

THE Lord Mayor of Belfast has been referred to a council standards watchdog after he was caught urinating in the street.

Sinn Féin councillor John Finucane has apologised and said he is "very embarrassed" about the incident on June 29 in Belfast city centre.

The party's Westminster election candidate for North Belfast was spoken to by police and accepted a community resolution notice for indecent behaviour.

"I am of course very embarrassed and deeply sorry about this incident and I apologise unreservedly," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

TUV leader Jim Allister has written to the Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards requesting an investigation in relation to the code of conduct for councillors.

A spokesman for the commissioner said: "We have received an enquiry which is now being assessed under our normal procedures."

The incident happened on a Saturday evening in the Castle Street area of the city centre.

Mr Finucane (39), who became Lord Mayor of Belfast in May, said he was making his way home from a social event when he was "caught short".

The solicitor said: "I made my way to my office on Castle Street. I realised I didn't have my key.

"I tried to find somewhere as discreet as possible off the main street. Two police officers then approached me.

"I co-operated fully with police and accepted this community disposal."

The PSNI confirmed a 39-year-old man had been spoken to by police following an incident in Belfast city centre at around 10.30pm on Saturday June 29.

"He was issued with a community resolution notice for indecent behaviour following the incident," a spokesman said.

Community resolution notices are issued to deal with comparatively minor crimes in Northern Ireland.

Belfast City Council has declined to comment on the matter.

However, a spokeswoman confirmed the lord mayor had one engagement in city hall on the morning of June 29 and none for the rest of the day or the following Sunday.

On his Twitter account that afternoon, Mr Finucane posted a photo of himself welcoming a US congressional delegation to city hall.

Friends of Sinn Féin, a US-based fundraising arm of the party, replied to his tweet welcoming the delegation's "support for the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement".

Asked about the incident, a spokesman for the Law Society of Northern Ireland said: "This matter does not engage Mr Finucane's conduct as a solicitor and is not therefore a matter on which the Law Society intends to comment."

Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O'Neill told the BBC the matter is "done and dusted".

"He's said he's sorry, he's apologised to the public, to the people of Belfast city that he represents, so I think that's the matter done," she added.

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