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. 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. He was returned for Sinn Féin in the Stormont Assembly election of May 2016 and again in March 2017 (securing the highest-ever Sinn Féin vote in the constituency) as a representative for South Belfast. Following the 2016 poll, 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.
Máirtín is 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. Among his awards flowing from his year as Lord Mayor 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.
Máirtín will discuss a changing Belfast and Ireland at this pivotal moment in history, twenty-one years after the Good Friday Agreement and with Brexit looming.