THE decision by Lisburn City Council not to open a book of condolences for the late Nelson Mandela has been described as “extremely disappointing” by a Colin Councillor.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News yesterday, Sinn Féin Councillor David Bell said that he had sent an email to the Mayor, DUP Councillor for Dunmurry Cross Margaret Tolerton, the day after Nelson Mandela’s passing, as he believed that the people of Lisburn City Council should have the opportunity to pass on their condolences.

A book of condolences opened at Belfast City Hall has been signed by a large number of people.

“Madiba has received worldwide praise and recognition for what he has achieved and given his stature and profile as a peace builder I believe that a book of condolences should be opened to him,” said Councillor Bell. “I have already been contacted by a number of people in Lisburn appealing for this.

“I have tried ringing the Mayor’s office and the response I received from her secretary on Monday was very blunt, stating simply that ‘the Mayor will not be opening a book of condolences for Nelson Mandela.’ It ended there with no elaboration or reason given. Many other councils across the country speedily opened book of condolences, including Belfast, and as a Lisburn Councillor I find it embarrassing that Lisburn Council has yet to do so.  Many Lisburn citizens have contacted me regarding this and, much like them, I am confused as to why this is even an issue. Madiba’s passing should not be a party political issue or used as a political football.”

A spokesperson for Lisburn City Council said: “The Mayor of Lisburn, Councillor Margaret Tolerton, received a request to open a book of condolences for Nelson Mandela and after consideration decided not to open a book of condolences on this occasion.”