28 May 2022

Councillor apologises over Mulligan motion

The Alliance representative has contacted the North West Migrants Forum to apologise.

Councillor apologises over Mulligan motion

The councillor who brought a motion to recognise American founding father Hercules Mulligan has issued an apology after research showing he had been a slave owner came to light.

Alliance councillor, Yvonne Boyle, had presented the motion to Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council's Leisure and Development Committee last week, where the Committee agreed to look at the establishment of a heritage trail in his reported town of birth, Coleraine.

Lilian Seeoni-Barr from the North West Migrants' Forum.

On Monday, the North West Migrants' Forum sent a letter to the Council calling on them to rescind their decision in light of the information on Mulligan's role as a slave owner.

Lilian Seeoni-Barr from the North West Migrants' Forum, published the responses to their letter on her Twitter account this afternoon.

"I am sorry for my error of judgement regarding the motion on Hercules Mulligan," wrote Cllr Boyle.

"Any proposed acknowledgement of an historical figure should include their links to slavery.

"I did not highlight this in my motion and I apologise for the distress and anger caused to people of African descent, ethnic minorities and all those working to combat racism in Northern Ireland."

Cllr Boyle also indicated a further public statement would be issued, and invited Lilian Seeoni-Barr to a Zoom meeting with her and party colleague on the council, Cllr Chris McCaw.

Ms Seeoni-Barr also received correspondence from Alan McClarty, the local historian who brought Mulligan to the attention of Cllr Boyle, in which he apologised for any offence caused.

"Slavery was a shameful part of our history and in no way should be celebrated," he wrote.

Chair of the Leisure and Development Committee, Sinn Féin's Cllr Dermot Nicholl, replied to Ms Seeoni-Barr's correspondence to make clear the party opposed 'all forms of racism and slavery, both historic and modern'.

"We have asked council officials to investigate these claims about Hercules Mulligan and are in the process of trying to reverse the decision."

Council Chief Executive, David Jackson, said the matter was due to be discussed at the next full council meeting on March 2.

"The matter was introduced by way of a notice of motion by two elected members and debated at the recent Leisure and Development Committee, but any decision can only be made at the full Council meeting which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 2," he wrote.

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