2014 Sinn Fein win in South Belfast local election
Máirtín Ó Muilleoir
could fairly be described as the dynamic face of
He says he is a “moderniser” within the party
What do we know about Mr Ó Muilleoir?
1959 – Born in Belfast and brought up in Andersonstown, West Belfast in a family of “deep faith and devotion”.
1977-1980 attended QUB but graduated in absentia rather than experience ‘The Queen’ played by the RUC band at his graduation ceremony.
1985 His first election attempt, as a local council candidate for the Lower Falls, was unsuccessful
1987-97 Sinn Fein councillor, with a very comfortable margin of victory over the SDLP
2013-2014 served as the 58th Lord Mayor of Belfast He was the third Sinn Fein member to hold the post.
2014- MLA for South Belfast
*He does not employ any family members
What does he work at?
He is a politician, author and very successful businessman that has gained recognition internationally. He is the Managing Director of the Belfast Media Group and the President of the Irish Echo in New York.
How does he stand on
Although he was never in the IRA, he is one of the hunger-strike generation
An Irish speaker and a prominent language enthusiast, he was drawn into politics from the Irish language movement by his anger over the deaths of 10 IRA men in prison in 1981.
To him they were innocent victims of the political system, protesting with their lives against the partition of Ireland.
Comment: Common enough reason for involvement in the republican movement – many people joined because of a sense of outrage after trauamtic events like the Hunger strike or Bloody Sunday
“I wouldn’t say the campaign was wrong” but.. “it would have been great” if there had been “another way”.
“The day my brother was released from jail was an occasion of much joy for my parents but not so for the younger Millars because his five day ordeal – house raid, arrest, detention, abuse, charging, release on bail – was about two days short of a genuine prison hankie”.
“I absolutely regret we ended up in a 30 year cycle of violence,”
What has he achieved politically?
He exposed the ”winner-take-all” attitude of the Unionist majority in Belfast City Hall.
When he was elected Unionists – still a majority – were doing everything they could to exclude the 9 Sinn Fein councillors from committees and from key decision-making processes. Unionist tactics ranged from the petty to the life-threatening
For example, the RUC forcibly removed Mr O Muilleoir, an elected representative, when he attempted to make his first speech in Irish.
*Sinn Fein councillors are no longer excluded from sub-committees
*Sinn Fein is no longer banned from participating in civic functions
* Sinn Fein now has access to all documentation
Mr Ó Muilleoir wrote:
“The subjugated have now swapped the prison cell for the Stormont chamber, and there are no more handkerchiefs being made for me to put on my study wall. The canvas on which they tell their story is now an unchained one”.
As Mayor his determination to make Belfast a focal point for outside investment won him many friends and international awards. He twinned Belfast with Boston
He’s a tireless champion of cross-community relationships and there doesn’t seem to be a bridge he hasn’t crossed,
an group he hasn’t met, a community he hasn’t visited or a project he hasn’t some involvement with.
In reply to his invitation for other candidates for the South Belfast seat to meet him in public debate
Our Jonny said “Yes” but Dr Mc Donnell has yet to reply
In his campaign launch the emphasis was on
*pressing forward with reconciliation and the creation of new jobs for Belfast.
*his closeness with Irish-America and the possibilities that held for investment and jobs in Belfast.
* education and his hopes for the raising of standards among young Protestant boys in particular.
*a new Belfast that’d be inclusive of diversity, that’d allow people to live lives free of sectarianism and want.
*an appreciation of the diversity in the city, and the contributions of members of ethnic minorities and faith-based groups to public life, especially in the richly diverse South Belfast constituency.
* Sinn Féin’s commitment to the promotion of the arts, employment & investment promotion and urban development.
Query: what’s more important in May, Sinn Fein winning the seat or the SDLP possibly losing it?
“I don’t concern myself too much with all the competitors in the race, but I will stand for change and people will make their choice.”
Queries: So will SF win South Belfast?
There is no doubt the general good will certainly benefit more from SF than from Constitutional Nationalism and the Orange Order and the Caleb Foundation
Will South Belfast voters embrace the future?