We, Too, Sing Belfast Video Exhibition

Photographer Donal McCann spends a year in the company of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, former Lord Mayor of Belfast  

'He is a man who does not stop.' It's how you want your mayor to be – someone who would run himself into the ground for the greater good, not continually embroiled in scandal, marked by an avaricious grin, and with a complexion and body mass index that just scream 'early grave'. 

And that is how photographer Donal McCann describes Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, Sinn Fein councillor and former Lord Mayor of Belfast, whom he followed unofficially during his year in office, in 2013, capturing the harsh realities and demands of the job, but also the character, warmth and determination of the man himself – the man with the golden chain.

Granted access all areas, McCann photographed Ó Muilleoir at his best – taking selfies with school children, dancing at a Snow Patrol concert, taking the bus in to work in the morning – and at his most vulnerable, giving interviews, taking calls, delivering speeches and thrashing out business strategies in far-flung boardrooms. 'He talks right up until he goes to sleep, and then he's up at 5.30, on his laptop, sending emails.'

It was, McCann says, an eye-opening experience, sharing a bedroom with Belfast's First Citizen at a tech conference in San Francisco, observing the political process taking its toll in the corridors of City Hall, and caught in the eye of the media storm following Ó Muilleoir's infamous visit to Woodvale Park in north Belfast, when he was escorted to safety by police as an angry Loyalist mob bayed for his blood.

We, Too, Sing Belfast, McCann's resulting body of work, is now available to view in the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter until October 21. McCann hopes that the exhibition and accompanying book, also published by the Golden Thread, will 'open people's eyes to what the job of Lord Mayor actually entails'.