South Belfast – Máirtín Ó Muilleoir


south belfast

2014 Sinn Fein win  in South Belfast local election

sinn fein south

      Máirtín Ó Muilleoir



could fairly be described as the dynamic face of

sinn fein

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.

lawyersand judges
He then successfully challenged discriminatory practices and policies in court, helping to lay the foundations for the modern, power-sharing council.


 *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”.

Another book of his
dome of delights
opens the door on some of the serious and at times childish actions of the Unionists of Belfast’s City Hall.


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?

Click to access The_Art_of_War.pdf

South Belfast and Dr. Alasdair McDonnell

south belfast



Dr Alasdair McDonnell

SDLP Incumbent since 2005
First favourite: SDLP
Second favourite: DUP

NB See all about the DUP candidate  here

South Belfast Electorate: 59,524
Turnout: 57.43%

2010 Votes         2010 Share
SDLP 14,026          41.03%
DUP 8,100              23.69%
UCUNF 5,910         17.29%
MIN 5,114                14.96%
OTH 1,036               3.03%

SDLP Majority 5,926   17.33%

What do we know about Dr McDonnell?

* 1949 born in Cushendall, Co Antrim;
* 1974 Graduated from University College Dublin, then worked as a family doctor in Belfast for over 30 years,

*1970 Initial involvement in politics with the National Party (founded Belfast 1965, dissolved 1970)
*SDLP is his second party

*1998 MLA
* 2005 MP for South Belfast
* 2011 SDLP Leader

sdlp logo

What does the SDLP stand for?
A new, agreed Ireland based on partnership. The SDLP’s vision is a reconciled people living in a united, just and prosperous new Ireland The SDLP is committed to protecting human rights and ensuring sound management of public money to deliver high quality public services.
All SDLP founders opposed IRA violence, a policy the party has always adhered to.

Comments: Hardly a radical or revolutionary party with an enthralling vision to move the masses
Indeed, since Sinn Fein espoused peace the SDLP has haemorrhaged votes.
Constitutional nationalism appears so old-fashioned in today’s world of Syriza, Podemos and the 5 star movement
I’ve tried to make the SDLP interesting but it’s very staid

The 2015 conference shows party members tend to be middle-aged

So does the party political broadcast

sdlp club

Recent Activity:

1) SPAD ACT 2013: SDLP decided not to help block a rejectionist unionist bill discriminating against former political prisoners working as special advisers in the NI Assembly

2) The UK National Crime Agency 2015: The SDLP changed its mind and decided to support the NCA.

The SDLP worked long and hard to bring about accountability on the NCA and after many months of negotiations with the Minister of Justice and the Home Secretary agreement was reached.

gerry kelly

Gerry Kelly Sinn Fein
described efforts to allow the NCA to operate fully in Northern Ireland as an “underhanded process”,
“the Home Secretary could increase its remit without consulting the Assembly”.
“The police say in the end to me, the only argument they have is over resource – then let’s argue for more resource,”


Pat Sheehan Sinn Fein
People would say this was another shadowy organisation“.

3) The Raymond McCreesh playground in Newry.

mccreesh park

Cause of  such Unionist angst

Patsy and Raymond

The SDLP policy is against naming facilities after paramilitaries

SF councillors swung the vote at Newry and Mourne District Council, with only 1/9 SDLP councillors  turning up.

4) The SDLP ‘s anti-abortion policy. Dr McDonnell’s recent comments stirred up a lot of opposition

Here’s what he said

And here’s what  one of the most senior Consultants in NI had to say in reply


Comment: SDLP appears to adhere more to its policy of achieving further devolution of powers while Northern Ireland remains part of the UK rather than its avowed aim of Irish unification

Queries: So will the SDLP win South Belfast?
There is no doubt the  general good will certainly benefit more from Constitutional Nationalism than  from the Orange Order and the Caleb Foundation
South Belfast voters understood that twice in the past

Will they prefer a different option in 2015?

Final comment:  Our friend FitzjamesHorse, SDLP rank and file member,  doesn’t agree with this assessment.

Read what he says about his party here

The Dirty War – 1

I’ve been doing a bit of reading this week which is why I haven’t been posting much. This news also got me thinking

Permission has been granted for a judicial review into a series of murders linked to a loyalist gang based in south Armagh in the 1970s“.

What have you been reading and studying?

dirty war
– Agents and Ambushes: Britain’s “Dirty War” in Northern Ireland by Martyn Frampton

– Before the dawn by Gerry Adams

informers boyd
– The Informers – a chilling account of the supergrasses in Northern Ireland by Andrew Boyd

So what do you think?
In the “dirty war” agents of the State seriously violated human rights, up to and including murder.

What was “the dirty war”?
The alternative to the “colonial-type”approach of the early 1970s.

What was the “colonial approach?
Treat NI like an insurgent colony. Easiest to explain it by examples:
* the “Falls Curfew” (July 1970);

gerry adams

Gerry Adams wrote “General Freeland sealed off an area of about 50 small streetso of tightly packed terrace houses in the lower falls. From helicopters hovering over the rooftops, loudspeakers broadcast a message of war, declaring a curfew which confined the local people to their homes for an indefinite period while thousands of  troops went on the rampage”

*Internment (August 1971);
* Bloody Sunday” ( January 1972).

Comment: Reform, internment, torture (the hooded men)

 Maudling’s delclaration of war and the massacre in Derry had no effect. Far from calming the province, and crushing the IRA, these events strengthened the IRA and exacerbated the conflict.

Why didn’t “the colonial approach” work?
* UK subjects were being treated like “natives”

Comment: what could happen in a ” real colonial ” situation was not acceptable on the streets of the United Kingdom

* Events were taking place under the watchful eye of the media, which subjected the actions of the British Army to scrutiny.

Comment: what might have been ignored when it occurred “out of sight, out of mind,” could not so easily be dismissed when it was seen live on people’s television sets.


Colonel Michael Dewar recorded: “outdated riot-control techniques used in far-flung corners of the Empire were tried initially, but found to be inadequate and unsuitable.”

Why was the “colonial-type” struggle abandoned?
It  strengthened the IRA and was associated with  large-scale violations of human rights,
Comment: We’ve already looked at massacres in  Ballymurphy,


and the  New Lodge

So what came next?
The security services attempted to maneuver between the requirements of effectiveness and legality to deprive the IRA of legitimacy and reduce its allure within the Catholic community.
There were several approaches.  Today we’ll look at one.

1) “supergrasses” in the early 1980s

Individuals involved with terrorist organizations gave testimony against their former comrades, in return for immunity from prosecution. This testimony was then accepted by the “Diplock” court judges

as reliable evidence that could be used as the basis for a conviction. From November 1981 – 1983, testimony from 7 Loyalist and 18 Republican “supergrasses” led to 590 people being charged with paramilitary-related activities in Northern Ireland, many of whom were convicted.

But many of the convictions were subsequently reversed on appeal and by 1986, over 50 % of those convicted had had their sentences quashed

What were the aims?
The testimony and confession of these informers would lead to the imprisonment of alleged paramilitaries, frighten and intimidate members of rebellious organisations and deter others from joining .

Comment: Ultimately, “supergrasses” failed because of  doubts about the legality of the process.

andrew boyd

Andrew Boyd wrote “Informers are universally despied, even by those who pay them and make use of their services, and if they live at all long after their acts of betrayal, they live precarious and miserable lives

                                                                                                                                                         (to be continued)

Democracies at War Against Terrorism, Editor:Samy Cohen, Publisher Palgrave Macmillan, 2008,  ISBN 0230604560, 9780230604568 Secret Agents and Ambushes: Britain’s “Dirty War” in Northern Ireland Martyn Frampton ( chap 4, pp.86-110)

Andrew Boyd – The Informers – a chilling account of the supergrasses in Northern Ireland (Mercier Press, 1984 ISBN 0-85342-725-9)

Gerry Adams – Before the Dawn – Brandon Press ISBN 0863222897