Joy as Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon reveals she's to be a mother
Belfast Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon may be coming to the end of her year in the office, but has revealed she is preparing for a new challenge - motherhood.
Ms Mallon and her husband Brendan are expecting their first child this summer.
The SDLP woman is the first Belfast Lord Mayor to have been pregnant in the role.
She issued a cryptic tweet yesterday afternoon about being four months into an exciting new project, using the hashtag "mumstheword".
A spokeswoman for the Lord Mayor later confirmed that she is indeed expecting her first child.
Ms Mallon (34) married her husband Brendan two years ago.
The couple said they are delighted to be expecting their first child this summer.
In a statement Ms Mallon spoke of her excitement about the new challenge as she approaches the end of her year in the Lord Mayor's chair.
"This has certainly been a life-changing year for me," she said.
"After a busy year seeing the best of Belfast as Lord Mayor, I am now set to take on the biggest job of all, as a mum.
"Both Brendan and I are looking forward to all the joy that this new arrival is sure to bring."
Congratulations have been flooding in already for Ms Mallon and her husband.
DUP councillor and father-of-three Christopher Stalford tweeted: "That's brilliant news Nichola! Very many congratulations!"
Peter Osbourne, chair of the Community Relations Council, tweeted: "Wow. If that means what I think it does then many congratulations."
Unionist commentator Alex Kane tweeted: "You've been a very impressive Lord Mayor, Nichola - and congratulations about the other 'project'."
Ms Mallon's news is the latest joy to hit the Belfast City Council chamber.
Former Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson became a father for the first time to little Reuben shortly after stepping down from the chair, while PUP councillor Julie-Anne Corr Johnston married her partner Kerry last year.
Ms Mallon is to hand over to a new Lord Mayor in the coming months.
Her successor will be the first Lord Mayor of the new Belfast supercouncil.
Nichola Mallon has been Lord Mayor of Belfast since last June. The 34-year-old is just the third female Lord Mayor in the history of the city - and the first to fall pregnant in office. She is an SDLP councillor, having been co-opted on to Belfast City Council in 2010 to represent the Oldpark area of north Belfast. She married her husband Brendan two years ago.