I have a lot of time for Cllr Niall Ó Donnghaile, the former Mayor of Belfast …he is I believe the youngest ever Mayor and he deserves credit for at least making one seat in East Belfast comparatively safe for Nationalism…in this case Sinn Féin. That is a hard thing to do.
He is also a member of that younger generation of Sinn Féin politicians.
I might also add that any time I have met him, he has been unfailingly polite to me.
He has certainly made mistakes. Not least when he had an attack of the vapours when he realised he would as Mayor…hand out a medal to a schoolgirl wearing a British Army cadet uniform.
He thought that he was on-message with Sinn Féin but he got it wrong and was chastised by no less a person than Martin McGuinness. Worse his Deputy Mayor…Ruth Patterson the senior DUP flegger got all indignant and Niall had to listen to a lecture from her in the Council Chamber.
It cant be easy listening to a lecture from Ruth Patterson. Nor can it be easy to make Ruth Patterson sound reasonable.
While his Party colleague, Phil Flanagan honourably condemned the bullying of SDLP candidate John Coyle (Fermanagh-South Tyrone), Niall seems to be part of the baying pack of so-called Sinn Féin supporters.
Niall is better than that.
But it is a bigger question than that. He really needs to carve out a place for himself rather than taking photo opportunities with some SF “hard nuts” of a previous generation. He has been hanging out with some very articulate people. But….are they telling the truth when he nods his head so enthusiastically?