O’Neill queries how story about SF candidate being ‘caught short’ leaked
North Belfast candidate John Finucane speaks of embarrassment after caution by PSNI
North Belfast Sinn Fein candidate for the General Election John Finucane who has been referred to Northern Ireland’s local government watchdog after accepting a community resolution notice for indecent behaviour for urinating in the street. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
The Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill has queried how a story about its party candidate in North Belfast John Finucane being “caught short” in Belfast city centre broke during the current Westminster general election campaign.
Mr Finucane spoke of his embarrassment about the incident which happened in June this year which led to him being cautioned by the PSNI for urinating on the street.
Mr Finucane, who was elected Belfast lord mayor in May, explained in a report in Tuesday’s Belfast Telegraph how he was “caught short” after a social function.
In a statement he said he intended to head to his office in Belfast city centre. He said, “I made my way to my office on Castle Street. I realised I didn’t have my key. I tried to find somewhere as discreet as possible off the main street. Two police officers then approached me.”
Mr Finucane was served with what is called a community resolution notice, which are cautions used in less serious offences.
“I cooperated fully with police and accepted this community disposal,” said Mr Finucane.
“I am of course very embarrassed and deeply sorry about this incident and I apologise unreservedly,” he added.
The leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice party Jim Allister said on Tuesday that he has written to the Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards requesting an investigation in relation to the code of conduct for councillors.
In his letter Mr Allister said, “I contend that Councillor Finucane has manifestly failed to maintain the standards of the code of conduct and that the gravity of the offence is magnified by the fact that he was holding the post of lord mayor when it was committed. Accordingly I invite you to initiate an investigation into the matter.”
The commission confirmed receipt of the complaint.
Sinn Fein deputy leader Ms O’Neill said she believed the matter was now “done and dusted”. She did not believe the incident would damage Mr Finucane’s chances in North Belfast where he is seeking to oust outgoing DUP MP Nigel Dodds.
Ms O’Neill questioned the circumstances of how the story was published. “I think given that it happened a number of months ago it is very convenient that it has been leaked two weeks out from an election,” she told the BBC.