• Belfast Between The Wars

TENANTS DEMONSTRATE AT BELFAST CITY HALL: PROPOSAL TO REVERSE RENT REDUCTION, EXTRAORDINARY SCENES

Derry Journal, Friday 22nd May 1936


Belfast City Hall was the centre of amazing scenes yesterday, when tenants of municipally-owned houses, many hundreds strong, made demonstrations both within and without the building when the Corporation met to reconsider their recent decision to reduce the standard rents by 2s per week.


The meeting was summoned by the Lord Mayor on a requisition signed by 16 members, and the special business before it was a resolution to rescind the reduction voted by 15 votes against 14 on May 1.


The result of yesterday's meeting was that the reduction stands, again by a majority of one, the voting this time being 22 to 21.


In view of expected demonstrations, a force of police, under a district-inspector, was on duty. They had some difficulty in keeping the more exuberant of the demonstrators, the majority of whom were women, within bounds.


Only a small percentage gained access to the public galleries, where accommodation is very limited. There was disappointment amongst them that more could not gain admission, and they remained a clamorous crowd in the vestibules and stairways.


TENANTS' CHEERS


While the preliminaries of the meeting were in progress, cheers from the body of deputationists could be heard. Many women sat on the floor of the apartment adjoining the Council Chamber while the debate went on.


When the result became known outside the camber, the tenants broke into round after round of delirious cheering. Cries of "Down with the landlords" filled the air and the members of the Council who supported the reductions came in for demonstrations of warm approval. Some of those who had voted the other way were openly denounced.


It was some time before the demonstrating tenants moved off. They were addressed in the City Hall grounds by Alderman Pierce and Henderson and others.


The decision of the Council to reduce the rents is subject to the Home Ministry's approval.