Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir needs Sinn Fein's backing to create lasting legacy

Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir
Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir

Mairtin O Muilleoir could be forgiven for feeling bitter.

During his first period on Belfast City Council, from 1987 to 1993, he suffered dog's abuse from unionists, threatened to sue and wrote up his experiences in an angry little volume entitled The Dome of Delight. It is to his credit that, as the city's 58th Lord Mayor, he proposes reaching out to Protestants, unionists and loyalists.

For instance, royal pictures will remain in the mayor's parlour, alongside the 1916 Easter proclamation.

He has signalled his intention of finding a remembrance event which he can embrace.

Mr O Muilleoir needs to take his party with him. Posing beside uniformed British officers could be difficult – and so could presenting a poppy wreath. The Irish government leaves laurel wreathes at remembrance events; that is one compromise.

So is finding an event, say the Festival of Remembrance at the Waterfront Hall in October, where Army personnel around him could wear civvies.

Some SDLP politicians choose to wear poppies at appropriate events. That provides a precedent.

Finding something he and Sinn Fein can live with would create a legacy. It would prove that things have changed since the days of insults and point-scoring under that delightful dome.