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DUP's Brian Kingston set to be next Belfast Lord Mayor

By Suzanne Breen

Published 25/05/2016

DUP councillor Brian Kingston
DUP councillor Brian Kingston

DUP councillor Brian Kingston is set to become the next Lord Mayor of Belfast after he was selected as his party's candidate.

Mr Kingston will become the city's new first citizen at the council's annual general meeting next Wednesday.

The Deputy Mayor will be Sinn Fein's Mary Ellen Campbell - the first openly gay person to hold the position.

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Mr Kingston (50) has a background in community work and local newspapers.

He is also a keen runner, completing the Belfast Marathon earlier this month.

He said would be "deeply honoured and privileged" to become the city's Lord Mayor.

"I am very proud to come from Belfast and, as a councillor, I have taken huge pleasure in seeing the great strides forward that our city is making year-on-year," he added.

"I will do my utmost during my term of office to promote the inclusive growth of our capital city's economy, to advance our international connections, attract international events and to support all those people who make Belfast a compassionate and caring city.

"I will dedicate myself to representing all the people of our city in an important year, which includes the solemn occasion of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme."

Last week, the DUP council group appeared unable to agree on a candidate.

Mr Kingston (below) and outgoing Deputy Mayor Guy Spence put their names forward, but they failed to secure enough support among the party group in City Hall, according to well-placed sources.

The matter was referred to party headquarters for resolution.

Mr Kingston was selected for the position on Monday.

The future Lord Mayor lives in Ballysillan in north Belfast and represents the Court electoral area.

He joined the party in 2009, was elected to the council the following year and is the outgoing leader of the DUP group.

"I have worked in community development in Suffolk, the Falls, Rathcoole, Upper Ardoyne and the Shankill," he said.

"I was the founder of the Shankill Mirror newspaper, which I managed for seven years. That was a great preparation for politics."

Mr Kingston is a former pupil of Methodist College in Belfast, and he has a physics degree from Manchester University. He has also worked as a volunteer with the Corrymeela centre.

"I have done a wide variety of things," the City Hall man said. "My journey in life has been unconventional."

The DUP councillor and his wife Eileen, who works as a cleaner, have three grown-up children called Leanne, Owen and Amy.

"With my youngest daughter now 19, this is the perfect time for me to devote myself to being Lord Mayor," Mr Kingston said. "I will give the job my all. My wife is also looking forward to playing her part as Lady Mayoress.

"She is a great people person and she will be a big asset to me and the city."

Mr Kingston is a member of Joanmount Methodist Church and is also a runner with the Albertville Harriers.

"I ran in the Belfast Marathon three weeks ago with a time of three hours and 29 minutes," the incoming Lord Mayor said.

"I was very proud of that time because it was under eight minutes a mile.

"I am planning to run the marathon again next year, although the Lord Mayor has to present the winners with their medals, so the winner and runners-up may have to hang around for an hour or so waiting for me to complete before they can collect their awards."

The DUP deputy group leader, Adam Newton, added: "I know that this means a great deal to Brian and that he will apply himself assiduously to serving our city over the coming year."

Under the d'Hondt system, the Alliance Party will nominate the Lord Mayor next year, with an Ulster Unionist taking up the Deputy Mayor role.

The following year, the positions will fall to Sinn Fein and Alliance respectively.

Belfast Telegraph

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