Belfast Telegraph

Historic office dates back 121 years

BY ADRIAN RUTHERFORD

The office of Lord Mayor of Belfast dates back more than 100 years to 1892, when Sir Daniel Dixon was appointed first citizen of the city.

Steeped in history, the role has been assumed by familiar names from the political world.

Recent Lord Mayors include Alliance MP Naomi Long, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and former Stormont ministers Sammy Wilson and Reg Empey.

The position that is now the Lord Mayor originated in 1613 in the (then) town’s Royal Charter, with holders initially known as the Sovereign of Belfast. The holder became known as a mayor in 1842.

In 1892, four years after Belfast was granted city status, the position was given Lord Mayor status, making it one of only three cities on the island of Ireland having the title — the other two are Cork and Dublin.

From 1921 until 1972, the Lord Mayor of Belfast was automatically entitled to a seat in the Senate of Northern Ireland.

Nowadays it’s a largely ceremonial role, involving jobs such as yesterday’s official opening of a community garden.

Mairtin O Muilleoir’s theme for his year in office is Building The future Belfast — Together. Following his election he said: “In the year ahead, I want the help of all our citizens to make Belfast better, first and foremost that means building the peace and working hard to bring our sometimes divided people together.”

It is believed O Muilleoir is the first Belfast Lord Mayor to be attacked while carrying out council business.

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