Crowds brave rain in Belfast at vigil for murdered MP Jo Cox

Alliance South Belfast MLA Paula Bradshaw signs a book of condolence during a vigil in Belfast for the murdered Labour MP Jo Cox. Picture by Cliff Donaldson
John Monaghan

CROWDS have braved the rain outside Belfast City Hall at a vigil for Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered on Thursday.

Mrs Cox (41), a mother-of-two and MP for Batley and Spen, died after being shot in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall in Yorkshire.

A vigil, organised by the Labour Party in Northern Ireland, was held at lunchtime on Sunday and was attended by representatives from across the political spectrum.

A book of condolence was laid out for people to leave messages, beside a Labour logo with a message in French "Je suis traître (I am a traitor)".

The slogan was an apparent reference to a comment made by Thomas Mair, the man accused of her murder, who told Westminster Magistrates Court on Saturday that his name is "death to traitors."

Several MLAs, including Alliance pair Chris Lyttle and Paula Bradshaw, and Sinn Féin's Carál Ní Chuilín, paid their respects, as did Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and Belfast SDLP councillor Declan Boyle.

SDLP South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell, who also signed the book of condolence, said the Labour MP was a "very vivacious, determined young woman."

He said: "She had massive determination in raising the issues that were of interest to her, and she was respected for her views on Syria and other issues.

"She challenged the government and the Prime Minister in a civilised way...and she had the potential to become a shadow minister in due course. She was a star, brilliant, probably one of the brightest of the 2015 intake."

However, the former SDLP leader, who has represented South Belfast in Westminster for 11 years, said it "was not possible to have total security as an MP" and said he wouldn't be in favour of "overdoing it."

Mr McDonnell said: "I have come through more than 30 years in politics in this country and to serve as an MP for Belfast you have to be somewhat flexible with your security arrangements.

He added: "You have to balance security with accessibility. I walk around and meet people, hold constituency offices, and I would rather retire than give that up."

After a minute's silence and a series of short speeches in tribute to Mrs Cox and her work, singer and songwriter Sam R Gibson performed a rendition of the Bob Dylan song 'He was a Friend of Mine.'

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