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DUP councillor Paul Hamill was a disciple of Covid sceptic Ivor Cummins... and now he’s dead after contracting Covid

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On the day that Paul Hamill died, the man whose undermining of public health advice had profoundly impacted the 46-year-old father-of-two made a typically self-assured post on Twitter. Ivor Cummins wrote about the coronavirus vaccine: “It’s the scam of the century, perhaps any century.”

Mr Hamill was a devoted disciple of Mr Cummins. Despite the Dublin engineer having no qualifications in virology or epidemiology, his videos have been watched more than 13 million times on YouTube, establishing him as a key figure questioning the medical and scientific consensus.

Repeatedly, Mr Hamill urged broadcasters to interview Mr Cummins. There was missional zeal in Mr Hamill’s promotion of a man whose output he only appears to have discovered less than a year before his death.

“People need to hear the truth,” he said, “his videos are amazing... it will open your eyes... come on Stephen Nolan have the debate, get [Cummins] on your show, unless your [sic} scared.”

After weeks in hospital critically ill since contracting Covid, last Tuesday he died of multi-organ failure and pneumonia, exacerbated by the fact that he was more vulnerable because he was on immunosuppressants for arthritis.

Even in the face of such tragedy some people cannot resist sneering. Aside from being distasteful, that does nothing to understand why so many other people similarly see the pandemic as some dark plot, or why Northern Ireland now has the lowest vaccination rate in the British Isles.

But one thing about Mr Hamill is different: he was a politician, a councillor in the DUP, he knew senior government figures who were imposing restrictions.

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How does someone who is a politician in Northern Ireland’s biggest political party come to believe that the measures which his party colleagues are taking are part of a global scam?

The story of how Mr Hamill came to be convinced that people like Mr Cummins knew more about a new deadly virus than most doctors or scientists — or even his party colleagues — is both poignant and instructive.

One DUP politician who knew Mr Hamill well said that he “became a little bit obsessive”, adding: “I can’t quite understand it.” Indeed, most of those who knew him and who spoke to me this week recalled him in the warmest terms.

One councillor from another party said: “I know people always say this about people who die, but Paul was such a lovely, lovely guy.”

Billy Webb, the Alliance mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey — a position held by Mr Hamill in 2018 — said that “regardless of party affiliation…his decency shone through in everything he did”.

At the heart of Mr Hamill’s changing worldview was social media. For a decade he had posted largely unremarkable information on Twitter — news of a new kitten,........

© Belfast Telegraph

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