On Tuesday I sat down with the Mayor of Belfast, Mairtin O’Muilleoir. We discussed a variety of issues from why he joined Sinn Fein to his view of the recent flag disturbances.
Here are some key quotes;
On his business background;
While I have enjoyed creating businesses and being involved in business….I think it has affected some of my outlook, I don’t think it has affected my outlook on matters economic. But I think it’s affected my outlook on matters of delivery.
On why he chose Sinn Fein over the SDLP;
I always felt that Sinn Fein were a party that could deliver change. I thought that the objective of a united Ireland was the premier priority of the people of my generation. I suppose you’re a creature of your background and time…
I think Westminster is irrelevant to political parties….I always regret when I see capable politicians opting for Westminster over Stormont…
Deliberately I tried to make gestures that would reflect an atmosphere of bridge building and I suppose there’s two thing in that the Rev Norman Hamilton at a recent breakfast we had said in this part of the world if you want to annoy someone kick them in the symbols and I think that’s very true, symbols and gestures are really important and what I found was what I saw as a small gesture because I was content to bring in the 1916 proclamation…..I do hope that the Unionists who come after me into this parlour that they also agree to display the 1916 proclamation.
On Loyalist disenchantment with Belfast City Council;
For those genuine Unionists who feel that Unionists are under the kosh in Belfast I would say that this probably the most progressive council group of any term in the last 30 years. We are getting more work done with greater speed that ever before. We are delivering a range of initiatives which show respect for all cultures. We fund Orangefest on 12th July; we have made space for events which celebrate the Unionist tradition.
Audio available here
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs