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Belfast elects city's first female mayor in 30 years

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Naomi Long:Alliance

Naomi Long:Alliance

 Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 20th September 2008. Mandatory Credit - Photo by Jonathan Porter /Presseye.com.  Alliance Party of Northern Ireland annual conference at the Marine Court Hotel in Bangor, Co. Down.  Alliance party leader David Ford and deputy leader Naomi Long pictured during the conference.

Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland - 20th September 2008. Mandatory Credit - Photo by Jonathan Porter /Presseye.com. Alliance Party of Northern Ireland annual conference at the Marine Court Hotel in Bangor, Co. Down. Alliance party leader David Ford and deputy leader Naomi Long pictured during the conference.

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Naomi Long:Alliance

Alliance's Naomi Long was elected Belfast's first female lord mayor for nearly 30 years last night.

Naomi Long, 37, deputy leader of the Alliance Party, won with the support of Sinn Fein and the SDLP by 26 votes to 24.

She defeated the DUP's William Humphrey after speculation over an electoral pact which could have thwarted her.

The only other woman elected lord mayor of Belfast was UUP councillor Grace Bannister in 1981.

Alliance leader David Ford said: "I am absolutely delighted. I believe Naomi has shown herself as an extremely effective and powerful advocate for her constituents in east Belfast and she is the ideal person to represent the whole of Belfast and to symbolise the shared future that we so badly need."

A former consultant engineer, she was elected to Belfast City Council's Victoria ward in 2001 and has been an Assembly member for east Belfast since 2003.

Married to Cllr Michael Long she lives in Ballyhackamore.

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As Alliance education spokeswoman she campaigned to save libraries from closing in east Belfast and successfully proposed a council ban on smoking in all public spaces.

Having chaired Belfast's District Policing Partnership (DPP) east Belfast sub group she was credited by the party with tackling anti-social behaviour.

Mrs Long said her election had come as quite a shock.

"It is good for the city and it shows it has moved on.

"I have made my priority throughout elected office to try to heal the divisions in society.

"I want to work with the council so that people have the best possible opportunities."

She said she wanted to address the barriers which exist physically and in people's minds and added she was pleased to be the first female candidate to take on the role for almost 30 years.

"I hope to represent all the people, showing that we can function at the highest level."


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