Normally I am on here to write about what politicians are doing wrong and why they need to do better. Today, I want to bring you something completely different as there is one politician who deserves real praise and that’s the Mayor of Belfast, Mairtin O Muilleoir.
This time of year is always an emotive one for Irish nationalism. I have my own views about how we need to commemorate this day and those who died. For Sinn Fein it’s an especially difficult decision as many supporters are uncomfortable with symbols like the poppy. However, this year Mayor O Muilleoir has really made a genuine attempt to reach out and commemorate this event in a way that none of his predecessors have. Yesterday, the City Hall was lit up red as a tribute to those who have died in the various wars that the British army has encountered over the years. But today the Belfast Telegraph revealed, he will become the first Sinn Fein Lord Mayor to attend an Armistice Day celebration.
Moves like this are welcome and while I have no doubt he will have some detractors from both sides I find it refreshing to see a politician making a genuine attempt to reach out to the other community. For this the Mayor deserves praise as it would be all too easy for him to just sit back and ignore the event.
There are times when I genuinely think we are going nowhere as a community, but today seeing acts like this give me hope that we can begin to mend fences and build some lasting bridges for the future. Politicians from whatever party who attempt to do this deserve credit and here’s hoping that the Mayor’s actions today can open the door for more of his party colleagues to similar things.
Mairtin O Muilleoir attending Armistice Day ceremony-picture courtesy of Rebecca Black
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs