DUP councillor Frank McCoubrey is to become Belfast's new Lord Mayor with the SDLP's Paul McCusker set to take the deputy position.
Mr McCoubrey said he would be deeply honoured to accept the role, and he was under no illusions as to the extent of the economic challenges facing Belfast over the coming year with the coronavirus crisis. "There will be thousands of job losses," he said.
"I'll be proposing that a task force is set up to focus on how best we get the city back up and running. I'd like to see a memorial built to all those who have lost their lives from Covid-19."
In an exclusive interview with the Belfast Telegraph, the next Lord Mayor talked about being the first single dad in the job.
The SDLP is set to nominate its poll-topping Ardoyne councillor, Paul McCusker, as Deputy Lord Mayor. A nurse in the Mater Hospital, he is a community activist known for his work with the homeless.
Covid-19 will make Monday's mayoral installation ceremony very different from those in previous years. Social distancing means there can't be a full meeting of all 60 councillors. Instead, each party will nominate a small number of representatives to attend.
The practice of the outgoing Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor placing the chain of office around the shoulders of their successors will be suspended.
Mr McCoubrey succeeds Sinn Fein's Danny Baker and Mr McCusker takes over from Alliance's Peter McReynolds.
The next Lord Mayor hopes that, despite the restrictions, his mother and five children can watch proceedings from the public gallery in City Hall.
Mr McCoubrey will also not have the crowded diary of public engagements that usually awaits new Lord Mayors. "It's very frustrating," he said. "Once restrictions ease, I want to be out thanking our NHS and care workers, and those who have been delivering food parcels to the old and vulnerable."
Mr McCoubrey, who has been a councillor for 23 years, said his working-class roots would be to the fore during his mayoralty.
"I grew up in Springmartin and I still live there. We had nothing. We were no different from the people in Springhill across the peace line. I'm a proud unionist but I want to be a Lord Mayor for the people of Springmartin, Springhill and all in this city, whatever their politics."
Asked about his attitude to gay marriage, which his party opposes, he said: "Same-sex marriage is legal here, and I've always taken the approach of live and let live. As Lord Mayor I want everyone to feel welcome in this city regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation."
Mr McCoubrey was first elected as a councillor for the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), the UDA's political wing. He joined the DUP in 2012. "When I walked into City Hall in 1997, I was totally overwhelmed. I was the youngest councillor there and the sole UDP one. I went in as a super-Prod from the Shankill, determined to fly the flag high. I've learned a lot over the years.
"In those early days Sinn Fein councillors Fra McCann and Tom Hartley would sit down for a chat. They represented areas with the same problems as mine. Sinn Fein members in City Hall fought tooth and nail for everything they've achieved for their communities. Nothing was given to them. I decided to do the same for mine, even if it meant being a thorn in the side of the council establishment."
Mr McCoubrey said he'd joined the UDP because the mainstream unionist parties felt remote "to someone from my class". He said: "I knew it was the political wing of a paramilitary organisation but it was trying to bring peace and stability to the community, and I was up for that."
Asked if he was a UDA member and if he condemns its terror campaign, he said: "I was never in the UDA. I condemn every murder in Northern Ireland. They were all wrong. None were, or can, be justified."
Mr McCoubrey's term of office as deputy mayor in 2000 was marred when he shared a platform with UDA members Johnny Adair and Michael Stone at a loyalist culture day event on the Shankill, which ended with masked men firing shots in the air. He said: "Had I known what would happen, I'd not have been on that stage. Things spiralled out of control and I was caught in the middle of it.
"I remember at the next council meeting, the Sinn Fein group leader got up and said, 'I've no doubt the deputy lord mayor is a reasonable person but...' and I was bombarded with criticism. Every nationalist councillor wanted me removed.
"I continued in office but it left a very sour taste for the Catholic community. Had I been able to turn the clock back, I'd have done it in a heartbeat."
Mr McCoubrey (53) grew up the eldest in a family of four in Springmartin. His mother was a guide helping on buses taking disabled children to school in west Belfast. His father, who was a fitter in Belfast Gasworks, fell to his death from a roof when Mr McCoubrey was 18.
"A lot of responsibility landed on my shoulders," he said. "I had just started working as a painter and decorator and I did as much overtime as I could get to help pay the bills. My mum took a second job in the Royal Victoria Hospital laundry as well. Times were tough."
Mr McCoubrey has three grown-up children from his first marriage. He has brought up his two sons, Frank (16) and Kyle (13), as a single dad since his second marriage broke up over a decade ago. "It was a steep learning curve for me but I've now perfected my cooking, cleaning and ironing skills," he joked.
"Some times of the year were hard - putting the boys to bed on Christmas Eve and knowing they wouldn't have two parents there in the morning like most other kids. But summers were always great. I'd a caravan in Portrush and we'd head down there for weekends of fishing, walking on the beach, and Barry's.
"The boys are my best friends. I was offered the Lord Mayor's position four years ago but didn't take it because they were too young.
"They don't need me just as much now. They're so excited about me becoming Lord Mayor. It's been a battle getting them to keep it a secret and not tell their mates."
Last September, Frank Jnr was the victim of a sectarian hate crime when he was beaten up by nationalist youths as he walked home from school.
"I was cooking dinner and he walked in, bleeding, bruised and shaking. His jaw was broken. I was devastated. I've brought both my boys up to not care about somebody's religion and I didn't want this to change them.
"That night, Arlene [Foster] visited us. She sat with Frank and told him that he must rise above the assault and not let it poison his mind."
Mr McCoubrey said the attack had "knocked the stuffing" out of his son. "He played football for Berlin Swifts but he hasn't been back since, and he's in counselling. But we got phone calls and 'get well' cards from right across the community, including from Sinn Fein people, and that was a big help. I want to build on that cross-community spirit as Lord Mayor."