Belfast High Sheriff post first for Alliance in two decades
An Alliance councillor has been appointed High Sheriff of Belfast for 2018 - the party's first in almost 20 years.
Carole Howard takes up the role for the next 12 months, becoming the first Alliance representative to hold the post since 2000.
The position as the Queen's judicial representative in Belfast was confirmed after formal approval from the Secretary of State.
The position, one of the oldest in the council, has been occupied solely by unionists in recent years.
The Lisnasharragh representative has been an Alliance councillor since 2011, and has served as deputy chair of the council's City Regeneration and Growth Committee.
Ms Howard is also the current chairwoman of the Belfast District Policing and Community Safety Partnership.
"I am delighted to officially become High Sheriff of Belfast. It is a role that is for all the people in the city," she said.
"This position only became available after Alliance pushed for it to become more inclusive than it had been over the past two decades.
"It is important all civic posts are as representative of the wider community as possible and, with High Sheriff now being allocated on the d'Hondt mechanism for all parties who are able to and wish to nominate for it, that is the case.
"Alliance is committed to inclusion and equality, and securing this change in how the council's top posts are distributed is evidence of that.
"I am excited to showcase Belfast and help promote the important message from Alliance Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister of a 'Global Belfast', while representing everyone across the city."
Under the d'Hondt system Sinn Fein would have qualified to nominate one of its councillors to the role for this year, but it ruled that out due to the post's royal connections.
Alliance was next in line, followed by the SDLP in 2019 - although the nationalist party said it will not be nominating anyone to take up the post.