Teenage Kicks, Dancing Feet and Killer Heels: Alternative mayoral race promises to be a bolshy ballot.
Lord Mayor of Belfast Niall Ó Donnghaile with Terri Hooley & Kathy Young
The backbiting, in-fighting and politicking starts here: The race is on to become the first ever Lord Mayor of the historic Cathedral Quarter in time for this year’s Culture Night Belfast.
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The three candidates for this highly prestigious and only slightly unofficial title were unveiled at press conference today on the old cobbles of Commercial Court, in the symbolic heart of the area widely regarded as the cultural hub of the city.
The recognised alternative mayor of Belfast Terri Hooley, founder of Good Vibrations records, godfather of NI punk and all round living legend announced his candidacy with the following simple but strident statement: “It’s a bit early in the morning for this sort of thing, but it’s about time we had a mayor in this area – me. Vote early, Vote often but no matter who gets in I will still be the Alternative Lord Mayor.”
Pouring scorn on Hooley’s claim to be the “people’s favourite”, fellow candidate, acclaimed playwright and long-time advocate of the Cathedral Quarter Martin Lynch was in ebullient mood. In his statement, delivered in a live link up from Dublin, where he had suddenly taken off to for the day on “urgent business”, Mr Lynch announced his candidacy. He said that he felt he had “no choice” but to stand for the coveted position and outlined some key electoral pledges, including the promise to dine in every single eating house in the district over his 52 week tenure as mayor and demanded to: “see a certificate from my opponent to prove he was, indeed born in the country – or indeed born at all and not invented.”
The award-winning author of Dancing Feet added:
“As candidate for Lord Mayor of Cathedral Quarter, if elected, I will take my duties very seriously. My campaign slogan will be – **** HOOLEY, VOTE LYNCH.”
Final candidate and dark horse in the race to be the first Mayor of the Cathedral Quarter is Kathy Young. An administrator with the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, the decidedly more youthful and female Ms Young dismissed any suggestions she was standing as proxy for popular local figure and – coincidentally – director of the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and – further coincidence – committee member of Culture Night Belfast Sean Kelly.
Ms Young set out her agenda very clearly, citing her youth, enthusiasm and the fact that she wasn’t Terri Hooley or Martin Lynch.
“We’ve had these middle-aged egomaniac men running things in the area for years. It’s time for fresh blood, youthful vigour and a bit of diversity at the helm of the Cathedral Quarter. We’re talking about the future of the area, not wallowing in the past. While these two snipe at each other, I’ll be happy to talk about how we can improve things for everybody in the Cathedral Quarter and draw positive attention.”
Joining the candidates on the hustings, the real Mayor of Belfast Niall Ó Donnghaile expressed his support for the runners, but declined to name his favourite. Cllr Ó Donnghaile added:
“Culture Night will be a fun and memorable night for all ages. The Cathedral Quarter is regarded as the unofficial cultural capital of Belfast – and so I think it is a great idea that the Culture Night organisers have that it’s only right that it has an unofficial Mayor. I’m looking forward to their ‘election campaigns’ – maybe they can teach us politicians a few tricks – and to announcing the winning ‘candidate’, to see if they will give me a run for my money!”
The gloves are now off, and the battle begins for the inaugural mayoralty of the Cathedral Quarter. The candidates will come together later this month for a formal leaders debate chaired by William Crawley, where they will have an opportunity to field questions and give voters the chance to put them through their paces..
The mayoral race for the Cathedral Quarter forms part of the run-up to this year’s Culture Night Belfast, which takes place on 23 September in the Cathedral Quarter and beyond.
The new Mayor of the Cathedral Quarter will be declared by the Lord Mayor of Belfast Niall Ó Donnghaile at the official launch of Culture Night Belfast on 1 September. The MCQ’s first ‘official’ duty will be to lead the celebrations at Culture Night Belfast on 23 September with an open-top cavalcade in the Culture Night Parade.
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