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Belfast mayor in disability slip-up

  • Posted by Vaughan
  • 15 Feb 08, 10:30 AM

Ladies and gentlemen, pray silence for the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Jim Rodgers.

Mr Rodgers is close to becoming something of an unfortunate legend in disability circles. In October last year, he temporarily disabled a local council worker, leaving her with back injuries, after attempting to jump over her during a photoshoot. Oh, and for reasons best known to only the event organisers at the Belfast Botanic Gardens, she was dressed as a tomato at the time.

This led to a BBC News headline the likes of which we're never likely to see again: Leapfrogging mayor bruises tomato. It brings a mayonnaise tear to the eye, it really does. What a s(al)ad story. Ahem.

And now, Ouch columnist Liz Main has sent me another story about Mr Rodgers, this time from the Belfast Telegraph, with the instruction that I should "be nice to the man". As if I'm ever nasty to people I write about on Ouch's blog! Never!

So what has the Lord Mayor been up to? Well, he was on live radio discussion on Wednesday, talking about the poor condition of pavements in Belfast's city centre. At one point, he said that the foothpaths were difficult for disabled people to negotiate, as well as for "human beings". Oops. Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

Mr Rodgers was, however, very sorry. He corrected his slip-up at the time, and "[I] made it quite clear that the footpaths were problems for disabled people, able-bodied people and also those with buggies. It was a genuine slip of the tongue made during an early morning telephone call ... There was absolutely no offence intended." He unreservedly apologised, and asked that anyone who had been offended by his remarks should contact him personally.

See? I can be nice. I really can. And if you're reading this, Lord Mayor, this particular "human being" certainly doesn't have any hard feelings, I promise you. All forgiven.

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