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plaice and time Row after Belfast councillor's fish supper appears on screens during universal credit meeting

And SDLP councillor accused Sinn Fein's JJ Magee of adopting a 'let them eat cake' attitude during meeting on universal credit cuts


Sinn Fein's JJ Magee

Sinn Fein's JJ Magee

Sinn Fein's JJ Magee

A Sinn Fein councillor has come in for criticism after he appeared to be tucking into a fish supper during a Belfast City Council meeting discussing the cuts to universal credit.

During an exchange between councillors, some of whom were in the chamber in Belfast City Hall, and others who had connected via video call, JJ Magee’s chippy tea appeared on the video monitors within the chamber.

Councillors had been discussing the impact of the removal of the extra £20 which had been added on to universal credit during the pandemic, and has since been removed, when the fish supper popped up on screens.

An image of Mr Magee’s meal was also posted in the group chat of the meeting, with SDLP councillor Brian Heading calling the incident “unbelievable”, accusing Mr Magee of having a “cavalier” attitude towards sections of the community who are going to find it “very hard” during the winter due to the removal of the extra £20.

Mr Heading added: “It’s a ‘let them eat cake’ attitude, and no doubt Sinn Fein will be looking to have words with the councillor.”

With all parties in the council having shared the same view that the £20 should not be cut, Mr Heading described the incident as a “pity”, saying it had broken the “unity of the council speaking as one voice”.

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Magee said he stood over his “record in supporting working families and the most vulnerable people in our community”.

He explained he was eating during the meeting as it was his first meal of the day, having had an early start.

He added: "Local people know how hard I have worked throughout the pandemic to ensure vulnerable people had food and necessary supplies.

"I know at first-hand the realities of what the heartless and cruel £20-per-week cut by Boris Johnson's Tories will mean to low-paid workers and families and the most vulnerable in our communities.

"I went straight into a Belfast City Council meeting after finishing a day's work which began at 7.30am.

"My first opportunity to eat was when my meal was delivered to my home more than three hours into a five-hour meeting which I was attending online."

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