In Ireland last week, I traveled north to Belfast to visit old friend Mairtin O Muilleoir. In addition to being the publisher of the Irish Echo newspaper in New York, Mairtin is a member of the Belfast City Council and he is currently the Lord Mayor of Belfast. This photo was taken as Mairtin showed me the Belfast City Council chambers.
While Belfast continues to make steady progress towards a lasting peace, it is a work in progress. Mairtin and I talked about his recent assault by an aggressive mob of Loyalists as he was opening a children’s park in the Woodvale area of North Belfast.
As this Youtube video shows (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-4gdpne0yY), the strong police presence did not prevent Mairtin from the kicks and punches of this bigoted minority. The police are now reviewing the video and charges for assault and battery are expected.
I suggest the Police Service of Northern Ireland charge these bigots, and those that prepared them for this violent confrontation with a hate crime to insure significant penalties and deter this type of behavior towards elected officials.
As for Mairtin, he literally turned the other cheek, said he would continue to be the Lord Mayor for ALL of Belfast and rambled on about the beauty of Belfast and its people. With Mairtin leading the way, I have no doubt Belfast will continue its steady progress towards peace and reconciliation.