Former Deputy Lord Mayor co-opted to replace Naomi Long as MLA
A former Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast has been co-opted to replace Alliance leader Naomi Long at Stormont.
Maire Hendron will succeed Ms Long as an MLA following the latter's election to the European Parliament last month.
Ms Hendron, a founder member of the Alliance Party, is a former Belfast councillor and served as Deputy Lord Mayor of the city in 2014/15.
Power-sharing government at Stormont has been collapsed for more than two years following a breakdown in relations between leading parties the DUP and Sinn Fein.
But the 90 elected MLAs are continuing to carry out constituency-based work.
Ms Hendron said she was "honoured and privileged" to be selected to replace Ms Long.
"We are at a time when Alliance has a key role to play in bringing people together and helping to restore a functioning Assembly that delivers for all the people of Northern Ireland," she said.
Ms Long described Ms Hendron's selection as fitting.
"Last month, many of Alliance's successful candidates paid tribute to Maire and her husband Jim for the vision they showed in the party's early days, paving the way for the success it is now seeing," she said.
"Maire is also highly respected across all parties in local politics, with years of experience, including her year as Deputy Mayor of Belfast. She is well placed to replace me as MLA and represent the people of East Belfast."