Ex-mayor Belfast Mallon is to fight seat vacated by SDLP's Maginness
Former Lord Mayor of Belfast Nichola Mallon has been chosen as the SDLP's North Belfast candidate for the Assembly elections in May.
The married mother-of-one was chosen at a party meeting in the city's Lansdowne Hotel last night.
She was the third woman to be elected Lord Mayor of Belfast in the city's long history, but the first female nationalist.
The Oldpark councillor's selection follows the decision of the party veteran Alban Maginness (65) to retire from political life.
Ms Mallon (36) said: "It is a great honour to be selected to defend this seat for the SDLP in the upcoming election and a privilege to take over from Alban Maginness.
"Alban has been a tireless servant for the people of North Belfast. His dedication to justice, human rights and the defence of civil liberties will mean his voice is sorely missed from politics here.
"We cannot thank him enough for everything he has accomplished.
"Jobs, housing, improved mental health and better community relations are among the key needs in north Belfast. People need a strong SDLP voice that always puts people before politics."
Mr Maginness said: "I welcome the selection of Nichola as a young and talented politician with great potential for the future.
"She has already distinguished herself as Lord Mayor of Belfast and as a hard-working councillor for the Oldpark area.
"I know that she will be an outstanding MLA for North Belfast. I look forward to helping her in her campaign."
Speaking last night. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood (32) said: "Nichola Mallon is at the forefront of a new generation of civic leaders in Belfast.
"Her dedication to and compassion for people in the city is clear to everyone who meets her and contributed to a powerful and uniquely successful year as Lord Mayor. I can't think of a better successor to Alban Maginness in North Belfast and I'm delighted to have Nichola on our team heading into the Assembly elections."