Northern Ireland news

Council rejects call for `bullying' investigation

Councillors rejected the Sinn Féin motion

A SPECIAL meeting of Belfast City Council has rejected calls for an independent commission to investigate allegations of bullying and harassment of staff at City Hall.

Sinn Féin called the meeting last night although no details of any allegations were disclosed.

Councillors instead passed a DUP amendment which re-iterated their support for staff.

Ahead of the virtual meeting, Sinn Féin said it had received complaints that related to "harassment and bullying from councillors and political parties"

Its council group leader Ciaran Beattie proposed the motion.

"We recognise that staff may be more fearful raising concerns because of the environment in which they work," it read.

"With this in mind, we call upon the council to establish an independent commission to examine this issue and report the findings and make recommendations to ensure the protection of our staff."

Brian Kingston of the DUP said there were existing procedures for people to address concerns.

Councillors last night supported his amendment which reminded staff of procedures for reporting. It also reminded councillors to act appropriately towards staff.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Beattie expressed his disappointment.

"Over the course of recent months, several members of Belfast City Council staff have contacted me and other Sinn Féin representatives concerning allegations of bullying," he said.

"Everyone in society has a fundamental right to go to work in a safe and friendly environment. The right to live and work free from harassment is the bedrock of democratic society and a right which must protected.

"As political leaders in this city, we have a duty of care to our council staff and to ensure that they have maximum support should they have any grievances in relation to their work. No political party or council should fear an independent commission which sets out to ensure maximum protection for workers with grievances."

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Northern Ireland news