Northern Ireland news

Women don mayoral chains as they take top council roles for first time

New Lord Mayor, Councillor Mealla Campbell of the SDLP
Mairead Holland

WOMEN have taken the top two posts in historic 'firsts' for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

The new Lord Mayor is the SDLP's Mealla Campbell and her deputy is Margaret Tinsley of the DUP.

It is the first time two women have been at the helm since Northern Ireland's second biggest council was formed five years ago.

Ms Campbell is also the party's first councillor to be appointed Lord Mayor during this time.

The pair were elected at an annual general meeting at the council's Civic Centre on Monday night.

The mayoral chain was also handed over by another female councillor, the UUP's Julie Flaherty, who, in one of her last duties as first citizen, presented a cheque for £20,000 to the Down's Syndrome Association.

Ms Campbell was first elected to Armagh City and District Council in 2005 and served as Deputy Mayor during 2011/12.

She became involved in politics at an early age and has worked in the offices of John Hume, Seamus Mallon and Brid Rodgers in different roles.

The mother-of-three, who has a degree in history from Queen's University and a postgraduate degree in Irish history and politics from the University of Ulster, works for the Education Authority in Armagh.

She has chosen to wear the former Armagh City and District Council chain of office because she believes the symbols on it reflect her priorities as a councillor - ‘For the community, of the community and all the community'.

Ms Campbell said improving services and facilities for families along with boosting physical health and mental well-being are among her key priorities for the incoming year.

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