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Sammy Wilson calling face mask 'muzzle' offensive to people with disabilities, campaigner says

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DUP MP Sammy Wilson (Liam McBurney/PA)

DUP MP Sammy Wilson (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

DUP MP Sammy Wilson (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sammy Wilson calling a face mask a muzzle is offensive to people with disabilities, a campaigner has claimed.

The DUP East Antrim MP tweeted a photo of himself with an ice cream, commenting you can’t eat when you’re “muzzled”.

He went on to accuse a local councillor of “playing into people’s fears on weak evidence” by promoting face coverings.

Mr Wilson’s position goes against a plea from the Health Minister Robin Swann this week, urging people to show “solidarity” with shielders by donning a mask and pointing to “compelling” and increasing evidence of their effectiveness.

The shielding period ended on Friday.

Co Down shielder Michaela Hollywood is a ventilator user and especially vulnerable to the virus.

Her family has a “Michaela gets Covid” plan – they hope they will never have to use it.

She said people refusing to wear masks put her at risk – and made her feel unable to enjoy the freedom the new advice allowed.

She added: “How many more days of my life do I have to sacrifice for the whims of others?

“It’s insensitive and dangerous for any public representative [to make those remarks].

“Take your mask off to eat and drink if that’s what you’d like to do. But calling it a “muzzle” is dangerous and derogatory to disabled people and those at the high risk to this insidious virus.”

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Michaela Hollywood

Michaela Hollywood

Freddie Parkinson

Michaela Hollywood

She said she understood it was impossible for some people to wear them, but those who could, should.

She added: “I have friends who can’t. I wear mine not just for me but for them.

“I actually have a second set of them coming to cover my valved mask.

“So if I go out I’ll actually be wearing two. It’s the responsible thing for me to do.”

Marie Tunney, whose daughter Eve has to shield, said the remarks were “appalling” and showed a lack of leadership.

She added: “Face coverings are not ‘muzzles’ or ‘face nappies’ or any of the other ridiculous terms being used at the moment.

“Is it really so difficult to wear a face covering when in shops and indoor areas so we can all protect each other?

“Do we really care so little for others in our society who r so vulnerable and also should b able to step outside their front doors and feel that society is doing its best to keep them safe?”

The DUP declined to comment.

Belfast Telegraph