SDLP's Nichola Mallon to be Belfast's first female nationalist mayor
The SDLP is set to make history after it was announced that Belfast's new Lord Mayor will be the first ever female nationalist to hold the post.
Nichola Mallon will also become only the third female first citizen after her party submitted its nomination last night.
The decision will now be ratified at the full Belfast City Council meeting on Monday, June 5, the same date that current Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir will depart his post.
The nomination fell on the SDLP because Belfast City Council operates a rotation policy based on council representation, with Sinn Fein already having held the post twice and the DUP once since 2011.
Tim Attwood, SDLP group leader on Belfast City Council, said that the nomination was "historic".
"This is fantastic reward for the hard work and dedication she has shown throughout her council tenure thus far to the city of Belfast.
"The promotion of this city is always at her heart and she now has the opportunity to lead from the front and represent the city to the rest of the world in a positive light," he said.
"This is historic, the first female nationalist Lord Mayor of Belfast and, indeed, only the third female Lord Mayor, continuing the SDLP's promotion of female representation in positions of political authority."
Ms Mallon said she was deeply honoured and looking forward to the year ahead.
"I aim to showcase everything that is good about Belfast; our young people, our elderly and I intend to open up City Hall, making it more accessible to the underprivileged and bringing the Lord Mayor's role out into the community," she said.
"I pledge to do my utmost for every single citizen of this city and build on the excellent work of my predecessor Mairtin O Muilleoir. It will be hard work, but rewarding. I'm looking forward to beginning the hard work."
Alliance councillor Maire Herndron will be her deputy, making an all-female council leadership.
Outgoing Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir wished Ms Mallon good luck and said he was in "no doubt she is well up to the challenge of representing the great city of Belfast".
Ulster Unionist Grace Bannister was the first ever female Lord Mayor of Belfast City Council in 1981, having previously served as Deputy Lord Mayor in 1975-1976. The next female Lord Mayor was not elected until 2009 when Alliance Party deputy leader and current MP Naomi Long was elected over the DUP's William Humphrey.