Belfast Telegraph

Where's Sinn Fein's Mairtin O Muilleoir?

High profile MLA who shared McElduff's Kingsmill tweet is nowhere to be found despite search of stomping grounds

By Ali Gordon

Sinn Fein's Mairtin O Muilleoir has established himself as one of the most visible politicians on the local political scene.

During his year as the Lord Mayor of Belfast he became almost omnipresent, zipping across the city to multiple appointments and visits, all of which he chronicled in his extremely active Twitter account.

However yesterday in the aftermath of the resignation of his party colleague Barry McElduff, Mr O Muilleoir was noticeably less visible. Even his famous Twitter feed fell to a duller pace following the social media warning he received from his party leader Michelle O'Neill after he shared Mr McElduff's controversial tweet earlier this month.

West Tyrone MP McElduff finally resigned following days of public pressure on Monday after he caused outrage by posing with a Kingsmill-branded loaf on his head on the 42nd anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre on January 5.

Almost 40,000 people signed an online petition calling on McElduff to quit.

While McElduff was initially suspended from Sinn Fein, the party said that it accepted Mr O Muilleoir's apology for retweeting the post and he was not disciplined.

The Belfast Telegraph visited Mr O Muilleoir's snow-covered Belfast Media Group office in west Belfast yesterday in our bid to see what he had to say about sharing Mr McElduff's video.

However, we were told that he was not in the building, and were unable to secure any comment from the MLA. Across the city at Mr O Muilleoir's constituency office on the bustling Ormeau Road, he was also nowhere to be seen.

When this newspaper turned up at the premises, the shutters were down. A neighbouring shop worker said there had been "little life about the place" that day.

Yesterday, the DUP's Sammy Wilson called on Sinn Fein and the public to stop allowing Mr O Muilleoir to hide behind McElduff's resignation.

But around Mr O Muilleoir's office many shoppers, business owners and students in the area remained steadfastly loyal to their MLA and insisted that they supported his work as their local MLA. Despite visiting a number of local shops, all those we spoke to voiced their support for Mr O Muilleoir, and emphasised that they did not believe he should resign.

Earlier this week, Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill said she felt no further action was needed, but that Mr O Muilleoir should "be more responsible" with his tweets in future.

Over the last week, he has been noticably quieter on social media, only returning to form yesterday as he urged his followers to take care in the frozen weather, and shared images of the "appalling conditions for travel out there" in south Belfast and made residents aware of bags of grit available in the area.

The 59-year-old later enjoyed an "amazing tour of St Dominic's Convent with Tony McCusker of Heritage Lottery".

In another post, he thanked Clanmill Housing for plans to build more than 200 new homes.

Belfast Telegraph

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