‘No offence intended’ by ‘unwashed’ remark

By Ciara Quinn

DUP Councillor Christopher Stalford told the Andersonstown News that he “did not intend to cause offence” after labelling West Belfast councillors “the great unwashed”.

The controversial comment was made at Monday night’s monthly Council meeting as Sinn Féin’s Gerard O’Neill was trying to implement a working policy over the amount of ice cream vans operating in West Belfast.

Cllr Stalford told the Andersonstown News yesterday  it had not been his intention to cause offence.

“There was no offence whatsoever intended, my comment was said in jest, as a joke, and I did apologise and asked for my comments to be withdrawn. During this particular debate councillors were having a bit of banter in the chamber and my comment was part of that. The councillors who took offence were entitled to do so,” he said.

Sinn Féin Councillor Gerard O’Neill said there was nothing humorous about Mr Stalford’s comment. “I was trying to get the Council to agree to formulate a policy around the number of ice-cream licences that are been given out in West Belfast. At the minute there is no limit to it and I was trying to make the point about getting a policy implemented to assist it – this was when Cllr Stalford began to mock the point I was making.

“For him to come out with ‘I appreciate that the great unwashed don’t like to be educated’ is out of order and I immediately called for a point of order in the Council Chamber. I’m all for a bit of banter in the chamber but that remark was not banter,” he said.

“To be fair, Cllr Stalford did apologise and withdrew his remark from the Council record but a statement like that should not have been made in the year 2011.”

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