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DUP's Tom Haire takes over from Jim Rodgers as High Sheriff of Belfast

By Cate McCurry

DUP councillor Tom Haire has been appointed as the new High Sheriff of Belfast. The Belfast councillor will be officially sworn in to the post at the next council meeting when he replaces the current High Sheriff Jim Rodgers.

Unlike the mayoral year, the post of High Sheriff begins this month and ends the following December.

Historically, the role has been that of protector of the monarch's interests.

However, it is now largely ceremonial, and since 1973 the appointment has been made by the Secretary of State, usually on the recommendation of Belfast City Council.

Mr Rodgers, an Ulster Unionist, wished his successor well in his new post.

"I'd like to thank Lord Mayor Brian Kingston and the Deputy Lord Mayor for the last six months that I have worked closely with the two of you as High Sheriff," he said.

"I'd like to wish my successor Alderman Tom Haire a highly successful year, there is no better man to follow me.

"I have known Tom a long time and I will be there for him on any occasion he needs help and assistance."

Mr Kingston thanked the outgoing High Sheriff.

Historically, the position of High Sheriff is one of the oldest secular offices in the UK, dating back to the Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898.

The High Sheriff's role largely involves providing support to the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor during their term in office.

Some of his duties will include attending civic functions hosted by the Lord Mayor, undertaking specific functions on behalf of the council, attending functions in place of the Lord Mayor and providing general support to the Lord Mayor.

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