About Máirtín

With Aaron and Séamus of McAufield's Gym
With Aaron and Séamus of McAufield’s Gym

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is the publisher of the Belfast Media Group titles (Andersonstown News, North Belfast News and South Belfast News) and of the Irish Echo in the US. He is a shareholder in IrishCentral.com, the leading website serving the Irish diaspora. Through the Aisling Events company, he has hosted a series of conferences which build community and develop transatlantic partnerships.

He is a former Sinn Féin MLA for South Belfast and, following the 2016 Assembly elections, he was appointed to the post of Finance Minister in the North of Ireland Executive and remained in post until the Executive collapsed in January 2017. He stepped down from frontline politics in January 2020 and is involved in the revamping of the Belfast Media Group titles and the development of the newspaper’s former offices as The Print Hall, a shared working space where tenants include a gym, an architect’s practice and the Belfast Media Group.

From 1987-1997, Máirtín was among a new generation of Sinn Féin councillors (led by former Mayor Alex Maskey) who transformed Belfast City Council through a series of landmark legal challenges which guaranteed equal rights for all representatives. His Belfast’s Dome of Delight memoir chronicles that time as does his Irish language novella Ceap Cuddles. He left politics in 1997 to take over the Andersonstown News, growing it into the Belfast Media Group with colleagues and launching the republican-leaning daily newspaper Daily Ireland in 2005. He returned to City Hall in 2011 and was elected Lord Mayor/ArdMhéara in 2013.

Award-winning photographer Dónal McCann followed the mayoral year and produced an exhibition accompanied by a book published by the Golden Thread Gallery, We, Too, Sing Belfast. Máirtín’s own memoir of that tumultuous year in office. Paidir do Bhéal Feirste, was published in Irish by Coiscéim.

A tireless advocate for the new and resurgent Belfast, he founded a series of initiatives designed to showcase the very best of the city including the Aisling Awards and the Belfast International Homecoming which encourages the global Irish diaspora to invest Belfast’s renaissance. In 2015 in Berlin, he became the first recipient from the North of Ireland of the Tolerntia Laureate Award for his support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Through his connections in America, he pioneered the Belfast-Boston sister city agreement which he signed with Mayor Marty Walsh in May 2014.

An Irish speaker, he believes strongly in the promotion of culture as the bedrock of successful and diverse communities.

Bhí sé ina fhoilsitheoir ar an nuachtán laethúil Gaeilge Lá agus ba stiúrthóir é ar Bóthar Ard, comhlacht a rinne corradh le 10 glcár do TG4. He was a publisher of the daily newspaper Lá and a founder of the film company Bóthar Ard which made more than 10 documentaries for TG4.

A keen supporter of the arts, he curated the 2012 Belfast Festival ‘Tears in Rain’ exhibition of conflict-related art which was accompanied by an essay of the same name published by the Golden Thread Gallery. On 1 July 2020, he was appointed to the Arts Council.

He served as Lord Mayor of Belfast from June 2013-June 2014. Among his awards flowing from that year in office were the Community Relations Council Award for Civic Leadership, the PRIDE Festival Award for Best Political Contribution to the LGBT Community, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians of America JFK Medal, their highest honour.

In October 2013, he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International for “the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples”.

As Finance Minister, he led a team of 3,100 in the Department of Finance and oversaw a budget of over £11bn. He led a revamp of the Central Procurement Directorate which he chaired to put an emphasis on social value and local SMEs and in October 2016 unveiled a £30m First Step Stimulus. As Finance Minister, he removed rates from amateur sporting club premises, brought forward proposals for empowerment zones in east and west Belfast, revived the Government Art Collection, and introduced the one per cent for art principle into government capital contracts.

In May 2017, he was thrilled to be presented with an honorary doctorate by the University of Quinnipiac in Connecticut, home to the Museum of Ireland’s Great Hunger which boasts the greatest collection of art relating to the Irish Famine in the world.

A graduate of Queen’s University Belfast, he is married to Helen O’Hare and the couple have four grown-up children. Máirtín is a keen runner.

He writes a weekly ezine and maintains a Twitter feed at @newbelfast.