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Mary Ellen Campbell: Belfast City Council to elect first openly gay deputy mayor

New Belfast deputy mayor, Sinn Féin's Mary Ellen Campbell. Picture by Hugh Russell

BELFAST City Council is set to elect its first openly gay deputy mayor.

Sinn Féin councillor Mary Ellen Campbell is due to be to be installed as deputy mayor at a council meeting on Wednesday.

The DUP's Brian Kingston is expected to be chosen as Lord Mayor.

Speaking ahead of her election, Ms Campbell said her new role "will be a significant step forward for equality".

"Visibility will be my theme for the year and visibility in elected office is vital to promote positive messages and demonstrate public commitment to equality," she said. "I am a woman. I am openly gay. I am a republican ex-political prisoner and I am from a working class community. I experience the challenges that many marginalised citizens face in Belfast.

"I intend in my year in office to highlight and put a focus on the rights and needs of the gay, bisexual and transgender community."

Alliance councillor Andrew Muir became the north's first openly-gay mayor when he was elected to the post in North Down in 2013.

Last year, the Republic's health minister Leo Varadkar received widespread praise after publicly revealing that he is gay.

The Fine Gael politician was the first cabinet minister in Ireland to be openly gay.

Following Mr Varadkar's announcement, Mr Muir tweeted: "One day being gay will hopefully be very ordinary and not motivator for prejudice".

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