Anger among unionists after Donnelly Lundy slur: Thompson

Apprentice Boy's Parade Brethern watch as the Effigy of Lundy is burned
Apprentice Boy's Parade Brethern watch as the Effigy of Lundy is burned

DUP Alderman Drew Thompson says independent councillor Gary Donnelly should apologise to the unionist community of Londonderry after he described the effigy of Governor Robert Lundy as an ‘over-sized doll’.

Mr Thompson said it was the second insult levelled at the loyal community in Londonderry this year after derogatory comments Mr Donnelly made about Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

In February, during discussions about a Beacon Scheme to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday, Mr Donnelly had asked: “Will she be on it?”

This week, at the Derry City and Strabane District Council full meeting for April, Mr Donnelly’s comments about the Apprentice Boys of Derry’s traditional ‘Shutting of the Gates’ ceremony, further provoked anger and irritation among unionists.

Referring to a previous presentation by city centre manager Jim Roddy, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) and the PSNI, Mr Donnelly said: “On one of the busiest shopping days of the year thousands of adults gather and they cheer the burning of an oversized doll to the detriment of the city centre traders.

“Is Mr Roddy doing a survey of city centre businesses to see if they are in favour of the burning of this over-sized doll?”

Mr Thompson says he was disappointed and bewildered by Mr Donnelly’s interjection as the latter walked out of the original presentation earlier this month due to the presence of the PSNI.

“I find it very disappointing that in the last number of months this is the second time Councillor Donnelly has insulted the unionist, Protestant people of the city,” Mr Thompson told the Sentinel.

“You’ll remember that at the time of the Beacon discussions Councillor Donnelly insulted Her Majesty.

“In this instance I found it strange that he should be making these comments at all as the proper place to have done so would have been at the presentation, which he bailed out of.

“But I think it’s totally wrong that he has come out and made these comments, which are insulting to an organisation, the Apprentice Boys, that bring a lot of people into the town each year. Visitors who are spending money in the bars, spending money in the cafés and restaurants.

“His remarks are totally inappropriate and offensive and he should apologise to the unionist people of Londonderry.”

At the meeting Mr Donnelly said he did not intend to upset unionists.