Lord Mayor’s Christmas Message


Blog of Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir
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Ba mhaith liom Nollaig mhór mhaith a ghuí oraibh uilig agus bliain úr faoi mhaise. 

Wishing all Friends of Belfast a Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2014. 

I  have been uplifted by the giving spirit of Belfast this festive season and no-one epitomises that generosity more than the Dean of Belfast, the Rev John Mann whose annual Black Santa sit out is a Belfast institution.

Rev Mann stands in vigil outside St Anne’s Belfast Cathedral from 9am to 6pm each day from 16-24 December, draped in the heavy clerical cape which earned him the name ‘Black Santa‘. His target, to be divided between small local charities and the Philippines Appeal: £200,000. 

Passers-by drop donations into a collection barrel while other clergy often line up to offer him moral support and the occasional restorative cuppa. 

Now in its 37th year, this giving tradition has captured the imagination of the people of Belfast. Parents often bring children along to make a donation before setting off to do the Christmas shopping. 


The Dean back at his post, with the Archbishop and Rev Janice. 

With Christmas upon us, the Dean of Belfast represents the true, unquenchable, big-hearted spirit of Belfast. By Friday afternoon, the £100k marker had been passed and still they come. I joined the Dean in the sleet and rain on Saturday and witnessed the outpouring of support:  A bus driver pulled up and tossed out a donation of notes weighed down by coins, a taxi driver stopped to hand over the tips he had received all day, and a party group called by with donations gathered in a Santa hat. 

Later today, I will join the Dean in St Anne’s Cathedral for the annual Carol Service and join the people of Belfast in offering up a prayer that this same spirit of generosity and goodwill is reflected in the final deliberations at the Haass Talks. 

Nollaig shona daoibh uilig.

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