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Dublin: 6°C Sunday 17 January 2021

Former Belfast mayor calls for end to 'shifty' handshakes

Tom Ekin has asked Northern Ireland’s leaders to reflect on how they shake hands as current practice could be sending out the wrong message.

Image: baggyjumper via Flickr

THE FORMER LORD Mayor of Belfast Tom Ekin has called on Northern Ireland’s leaders to examine how they shake hands with another person.

In a letter to the Belfast Telegraph, the Alliance councillor said that there was a local habit in Northern Ireland of shaking somebody’s hand with the second hand “embedded in the trouser pocket and the eyes looking over the shoulder of the other party”.

Ekin said the practice went against the purpose of a handshake – “a professional or friendly greeting, with nothing concealed.”

Although Ekin said the method is a local Northern Ireland one, he penned the letter after seeing Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond greet David Cameron with one hand in his pocket.

“What sort of message does that send out?” he asked.

We are trying to attract foreign inward investment from people who take the rules of etiquette seriously.

We say we are trying to have a shared future in Northern Ireland. What does the other person think when we look shifty and as if we are hiding something?”

He ended his letter with a suggestion to Northern Ireland’s leaders to “shake hands with both hands exposed and eyes looking at the other party.”

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