Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's Daniel Baker set to be next Lord Mayor of Belfast

New Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast Daniel Baker.
New Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast Daniel Baker.
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

Sinn Fein councillor Daniel Baker will be installed as the new Lord Mayor of Belfast at a ceremony on Wednesday.

The party confirmed yesterday that Mr Baker is set to replace John Finucane, who is now the newly-elected MP for North Belfast.

Mr Baker said it was an honour to be selected as Belfast's next first citizen.

"I am grateful to those who have nominated me for this position," he said yesterday. "I am honoured and humbled. I will be the mayor of all communities.

"I want to thank my family and community for their support, I want to do everyone proud. I wish my mum could see me now.

"Belfast is the rainbow city. It is made up of a diverse and vibrant population. It is a city on the rise and one that I am immensely proud to be a citizen (of).

"As mayor, I will strive to represent all citizens equally."

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A 37-year-old married father-of-three from the Lagmore area, Mr Baker is a former pupil of De La Salle Secondary School in west Belfast and graduated from Queen's University Belfast with a degree in politics.

A Sinn Fein activist since 2005, he previously served as the party's director of elections in the area. He was selected by Sinn Fein to replace Belfast City councillor David Bell when he stepped down in December 2017.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MLAs Megan Fearon and Mairtin O Muilleoir have announced they are quitting the Northern Ireland Assembly. Both were former ministers in the last Executive.

Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill paid tribute to them for their contribution to public life.

She said they had worked "tirelessly to deliver for citizens and to build a new, just and united Ireland".

"They both will remain republican activists and advocates for equality, justice and liberty," she said.

Mairtin O Muilleoir has been one of the party's most senior members. He was a former Lord Mayor of Belfast before becoming South Belfast MLA. He was the last finance minister Stormont had before its collapse and set up the RHI Inquiry as one of his final acts in the post.

Mr O Muilleoir had previously served on Belfast City Council for a decade up until 1997 before stepping away from politics to concentrate on his newspaper business.

"It has been the greatest privilege of my life to represent the people of south and west Belfast for Sinn Fein in both City Hall and Stormont," he said. "But it is now time for me to hand over to a representative of a newer generation of republican activists.

"I want to thank all of those who have given me their support and assure them that I will remain a determined advocate of a better Belfast and a new and united Ireland."

Ms Fearon, a Newry and Armagh MLA for seven years, said her time in electoral politics had come to an end and it was time for a new challenge.

The 28-year-old was the youngest person to enter the Assembly at the age of 20. Before that, she studied politics, philosophy and economics at Queen's.

She served as junior minister to Martin McGuinness in The Executive Office and was a member of the Finance, Economy and OFMDFM Committees.

"I am excited to begin a new chapter in life and I want to thank everyone who has been part of this journey," she added.

Meanwhile, ousted South Belfast DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly was asked on BBC's Talkback Radio Ulster programme if she was going to replace Carla Lockhart as Upper Bann MLA. Ms Lockhart was last week elected Upper Bann MP.

Ms Little-Pengelly dodged the question, saying she was looking forward to recovering from her election campaign.

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