Naomi Long elected Belfast Mayor

Published Monday, 01 June 2009
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Belfast's first female Lord Mayor for nearly 30 years was elected on Monday night.

Naomi Long, 37, deputy leader of the Alliance Party, won with the support of Sinn Fein and the SDLP by 26 votes to 24.

She defeated the DUP's William Humphrey after speculation over an electoral pact which could have thwarted her.

The only other woman elected Lord Mayor of Belfast was UUP councillor Grace Bannister in 1981.

Mrs Long said her election had come as quite a shock.

"It is good for the city and it shows it has moved on.

"I have made my priority throughout elected office to try to heal the divisions in society.

"I want to work with the council so that people have the best possible opportunities."

She said she wanted to address the barriers which exist physically and in people's minds and added she was pleased to be the first female candidate to take on the role for almost 30 years.

"I hope to represent all the people, showing that we can function at the highest level."

Alliance leader David Ford said: "I am absolutely delighted. I believe Naomi has shown herself as an extremely effective and powerful advocate for her constituents in east Belfast and she is the ideal person to represent the whole of Belfast and to symbolise the shared future that we so badly need."

'Dual mandates'

But DUP Cllr Nelson McCausland has criticised the election.

"The decision by Belfast City Council to elect Naomi Long as lord mayor flies in the face of what the Alliance Party has said regarding dual mandates," he said.

"It is nothing short of rank hypocrisy as the Alliance Party's European candidate has made it clear that he does not favour elected representatives holding more than one job.

"The Belfast Lord Mayor's position is a very demanding job and is paid with a full-time salary."

A former consultant engineer, Naomi Long was elected to Belfast City Council's Victoria ward in 2001 and has been an MLA for east Belfast since 2003.

"I would not have put my name forward for the job if I did not think I was fit to do it," Naomi Long told UTV Live Tonight.

"Local government is there for people who have other jobs. My other full-time job happens to be in politics, but it used to be in engineering and I did the job then too."

Married to Cllr Michael Long, the new Lord Mayor lives in Ballyhackamore.

As Alliance education spokeswoman she campaigned to save libraries from closing in east Belfast and successfully proposed a council ban on smoking in all public spaces.

© Press Association
Comments Comments
Honour Johnston in Belfast wrote (1,755 days ago):
:)) Naomi is mii second cousin or sommit like thaat xD
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