Pictured above: Co Down shielder Michaela Hollywood who is a ventilator user and especially vulnerable to the virus

By Jessica Black, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Sammy Wilson calling a face mask a muzzle is “dangerous and derogatory” to people with disabilities, it has been claimed.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson

The DUP East Antrim MP tweeted a photo of himself with an ice cream, commenting you can’t eat when you’re “muzzled”.

He went on to accuse a local councillor of “playing into people’s fears on weak evidence” by promoting face coverings.

Mr Wilson’s position goes against a plea from the Health Minister Robin Swann this week, urging people to show “solidarity” with shielders by donning a mask and pointing to “compelling” and increasing evidence of their effectiveness.

The shielding period ends today (July 31).

Co Down shielder Michaela Hollywood is a ventilator user and especially vulnerable to the virus.

Her family has a “Michaela gets Covid” plan – they hope they’ll never have to use it.

She said people refusing to wear masks put her at risk – and made her feel unable to enjoy the freedom the new advice allowed.

She added: “How many more days of my life do I have to sacrifice for the whims of others?

“It’s insensitive and dangerous for any public representative [to make those remarks].

“Take your mask off to eat and drink if that’s what you’d like to do. But calling it a “muzzle” is dangerous and derogatory to disabled people and those at the high risk to this insidious virus.”

She said she understood it was impossible for some people to wear them, but those who could, should.

She added: “I have friends who can’t. I wear mine not just for me but for them.

Larne councillor Danny Donnelly

Alliance councillor Danny Donnelly (@dannyDonnelly1) tweeted: “Like Sammy Wilson I also was in Islandmagee today and had a lovely ice cream from The Rinkha. I respected the staff and other customers enough to wear a mask. Then I went outside, took the mask off and ate the ice cream – simple really!”

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