O Muilleoir wants to be MP... but he must decry IRA murders in the area
Occasionally a crack will appear in the veneer of a public persona. On Thursday evening on the BBC's 'The View', just such an occurrence happened.
A Sinn Fein politician of senior rank, who styled himself as one of the 'bright side of the road' people, demolished his own carefully cultivated image. It is unusual to see such a polished media performer self-destruct in front of the cameras but that is precisely what happened. The image created through countless tweets and selfies by Mairtin O Muilleoir as everyone's friend vanished as he spent the programme talking over and attacking almost everyone else on the panel.
When asked by the DUP's Emma Little Pengelly if he would condemn the Provisional IRA's bombing of Manchester, he attacked her personally and sought to condemn her for things that happened when she was a child and over which she could have no control, concerning her father. This was a disgraceful thing to do.
He then named me and demanded to know if I condemned the recent murder that occurred in Bangor. He did so knowing that I wasn't in the studio to reply. I am grateful to the Belfast Telegraph for giving me the opportunity to do so.
I condemn every single murder carried out by every single paramilitary group in Northern Ireland since the beginning of the Troubles. I do so unreservedly and without any hesitation.
Mairtin O Muilleoir is hoping to become the next Member of Parliament for South Belfast. He will be aware that if he does so, he will be following in the footsteps of the Rev Robert Bradford. Robert Bradford was attending to his duties as a constituency representative by holding an advice surgery in Finaghy Community Centre. He and another innocent man were gunned down in cold blood by IRA cowards. This was a direct assault upon democracy. It followed the murder of Airey Neave and would be followed by the murders of Sir Anthony Berry and Ian Gow. Does Mairtin O Muilleoir condemn these murders in the same way I have?
The Lisburn Road is the main thoroughfare in our constituency, a popular place for families and their children. Mairtin is very fond of telling us how much he loves it. Many of us like to visit Barnams Ice Cream parlour. I take my own children there on occasion. On October 11, 1988, the scene at Barnams was very different from that which I, my children and thousands of others enjoy. Off duty police officer John Larmour was murdered by Provisional IRA criminals. Does Mr 'Bright Side of the Road' think this should be condemned?
Like me, and like Mairtin (left), Edgar Graham was an Assembly Member for South Belfast. He was murdered in cold blood by the Provisional IRA. Was he a legitimate target? Does Mairtin condemn this murder?
Mary Travers was an innocent young woman with her life ahead of her, who was murdered on the Malone Road after attending mass with her father who happened to be a magistrate. Was she 'collateral damage' in the campaign to 'liberate' Ireland? Does Mairtin condemn her murder? Sinn Fein said her death was "regrettable" but "directly linked to the political situation in Ireland".
These are just some of the many who lost their lives in the constituency that Mairtin O Muilleoir aspires to represent. The electorate deserves to know if their would-be MP condemns their murder. I await his response with interest.
- Christopher Stalford is DUP MLA for South Belfast