Belfast Telegraph

Andrew may open way for more gays in politics

By Liam Clarke

Belfast's Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Martin O Muilleoir and his DUP predecessor Gavin Robinson have been praised for reaching across divides, even if Mr O Muilleoir got a rough reception in Woodvale. But is North Down setting more significant long-term political precedents?

It is a constituency noted for nurturing free thinkers and now the province's first openly gay mayor, Andrew Muir (right), seems to going down fairly well.

There was a political squall when a recently co-opted Alliance councillor, Adam Harbinson, defected to the DUP. "Alliance's unequivocal support for gay marriage and the pressure they applied on elected representatives to back it were the last straw for me," Mr Harbinson said, pointing the finger at Mr Muir.

After that there has been no public controversy. A Friends of the Earth activist, Mr Muir is striving to implement his mayoral slogan of getting people "working as one". He has been photographed with a near double at the World Police and Fire Games and in the cab of a steam train; he has fore-grounded Amnesty International and conservation.

Could this only happen in North Down? It was the ideal place to break new ground, but after this it may be easier for gays to get involved in politics without having to publicly deny their sexuality.

Belfast Telegraph


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