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O Muilleoir signals return to politics

Former Sinn Fein representative Mairtin O Muilleoir hopes to re-enter politics at Belfast City Council to "give something back", he has said.

The high profile republican will remain as the managing director of the Belfast Media Group, but said he would commit himself to being elected next year for the Balmoral area.

A Sinn Fein meeting tonight is expected to endorse his bid to contest a Belfast City Council seat in the south of the city.

But Mr O Muilleoir denied that his return to politics would see him also make a bid for Gerry Adams's West Belfast Westminster seat when the Sinn Fein president steps down to stand for election in the Dail next year.

Mr O Muilleoir said: "I think it is an important time to give back to the city.

"I have spent 10 years in the City Hall, I have now spent the last 13 years building businesses, and involved in civic life.

"I want to take that experience together and bring it back to the leadership of Belfast and back to the City Hall."

Mr O Muilleoir, who wrote a book about his experiences in City Hall during the tense 1980s, said his business ventures had since pumped over £1 million per year in wages into the local economy.

He said he now saw the Balmoral area of south Belfast as a "business engine" for the city and he wished to encourage commerce and help build a city "with space and fair play for all".

Former IRA hunger striker Pat Sheehan is to replace Mr Adams at the Assembly, but there is continuing speculation over who might eventually seek to take on his Westminster seat.

But Mr O Muilleoir, whose media group includes West Belfast's Andersonstown News paper, denied he was interested in the post.

"No. I am going to have my hands full," he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey has already been replaced on the council but remains an MLA for the south of the city.

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