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Video: SF mayor of Belfast hospitalised after being jostled by loyalist protesters

A local DUP politician criticised the Lord Mayor for attending the event after violent scuffles broke out.

Image: Screengrab via YouTube

THE MAYOR OF Belfast had to be hospitalised after he was jostled by protesters as he attended the re-opening of a park in a loyalist part of the city on Tuesday.

Sinn Féin politician Máirtin Ó Muilleoir was hurt and a number of police officers sustained injuries in the violent incident at Woodvale Park, which has been a flashpoint for tensions between nationalists and loyalists in recent weeks.

Missiles were thrown at police officers and the mayor was punched and kicked by protesters.

Afterwards, Ó Muilleoir criticised the “small element” responsible. “We should remember there’s a small element in Belfast wants to bring us back to the dark days of this city,” he said. “I’m the first citizen of Belfast; I made a commitment to represent all the people of Belfast.”

(Video: sinnfeinireland/YouTube)

Ó Muilleoir was brought to hospital for a check-up and is back at work today. He said that he had vowed to visit all parts of the city and had taken police advice before attending.

“As Lord Mayor for all, promised 2 visit every part of Belfast if invited, police advice was safe 2go Woodvl, antipeace elements will not win,” he tweeted.

He thanked PSNI officers who were also injured in the incident for their service.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams tweeted his support for Ó Muilleoir.

Meanwhile a local DUP politician said the incident was “entirely preventable” and criticised the Lord Mayor for attending the event.

“We were aware that having him participate in any official capacity would be an affront to many within our community and recommended that this duty be deputised to another Council representative, as there was the danger of his presence creating tension which would overshadow a family fun day,” said Alderman William Humphrey MLA. “Clearly the Lord Mayor chose not to listen to that advice”.

“Respect and tolerance is a two way street: you cannot trample all over people’s sensitivities and then a matter of weeks later, because you have a chain around your beck, waltz into a community pretending you represent everyone,” said Humphrey.

Sinn Féin sharply criticised Humphrey for his comments for failing to condemn the assault on Ó Muilleoir.

“It is clear that a small section of unionism is trying to stop progress and from Belfast becoming a city of equals,” said Sinn Féin councillor Jim McVeigh. “William Humphrey is aligning himself with this negative and sectarian element”.

Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (Pic: Paul Faith/PA Wire)

Read: Investigation after ‘shots fired’ at police in Belfast >

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