The SDLP’s Pat Convery has been tipped to replace the Alliance Party’s Naomi Long tonight as the new Lord Mayor of Belfast.
The north Belfast councillor is said to be “highly likely” to succeed Ms Long—who hit the headlines last month after ousting the DUP’s Peter Robinson from his Westminster seat.
If Mr Convery, who represents the Castle district, is elected, it will come five years after he was deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast.
The decision will be made during a full council meeting tonight.
A council source said: “Pat Convery will be put forward as the SDLP’s nomination and he is highly likely to become the new Lord Mayor.”
It is understood both Sinn Fein and the Alliance Party will not nominate candidates from their own parties.
Meanwhile the outgoing deputy Lord Mayor, Sinn Fein’s Danny Lavery, is expected to hand over his chain to a member from the unionist benches.
“It is unclear as of yet who the DUP or UUP will put forward. But I think they should be putting forward nominations for the deputy Lord Mayor,” the source added. Since being elected Lord Mayor last June, Mrs Long’s political career has rocketed.
Mrs Long, who is married to Castlereagh councillor Michael Long, took over from Sinn Fein’s Tom Hartley. She was the first woman to hold the position in 28 years.
The only other woman to be elected to the post of Lord Mayor since the council changed over from the former Belfast Corporation in 1973 was Ulster Unionist Grace Bannister in 1981.
Mrs Long described the last year as the city’s first citizen as “a joy”. Writing on her council political blog page, she said: “When the Lord Mayor’s chain was handed over to me in June last year, I could never have believed how much would happen to change my life in the year that was to come.
“I look back on an incredible experience and one which I will look back on with genuine happiness in the years to come.”