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Critics take a poke at Wilson over face mask 'muzzles' jibe

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Sammy Wilson shops for an ice-cream minus any type of face covering

Sammy Wilson shops for an ice-cream minus any type of face covering

Sammy Wilson shops for an ice-cream minus any type of face covering

East Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson has been savaged on social media after describing anti-Covid face masks as "muzzles".

Hundreds of people had a poke at the DUP man after he tweeted a picture of himself with a 99 ice-cream inside an Islandmagee sweet shop.

"Support local business. You can't eat ice-cream when you're muzzled!" he tweeted.

But party colleague Pam Cameron MLA, deputy chair of the health committee at Stormont, was among those who voiced her disagreement.

Responding to another of the MP's tweets - saying it would be "mad" for the wearing of face masks to be enforced here - Ms Cameron said: "Just your opinion Sammy. I for one will be wearing a face covering and doing the little bit I can to protect those whose shielding is paused today," she said.

The Executive wants to see more people using masks and face coverings by August 20.

"If there has not been a significant increase in the use of face coverings by this stage, the Executive will implement the power to make this mandatory," it warned.

Ulster Unionist Party chief whip Robbie Butler MLA said Mr Wilson was displaying "an incredible amount of ignorance".

"Nobody's being asked to wear a face covering while they are eating and his petulant performance is grossly irresponsible," he said.

"If there's another lockdown he won't be able eat out if the shops and restaurants are shut.

"Sammy should grow up and realise it's not always about him."

The MP's position also goes against a plea from Health Minister Robin Swann this week urging people to show "solidarity" with those shielding against Covid-19 by donning a mask. He also pointed to increasing evidence of their effectiveness.

The shielding period ended yesterday.

One shielder claimed the MP's tweet was an insult to people with disabilities.

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

She said people refusing to wear masks put her and others like her at risk.

"How many more days of my life do I have to sacrifice for the whims of others?" she said.

"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 highest risk to this insidious virus."

Marie Tunney, whose daughter Eve has to shield, said the remarks were "appalling".

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 are so vulnerable and also should be able to step outside their front doors and feel that society is doing its best to keep them safe?"

Mr Wilson did not respond to a request for comment.

Belfast Telegraph