BELFAST'S new lord mayor has said the main focus of her year in office will be on "building strong, inclusive community relationships" in the city.
Zimbabwe-born Alliance councillor Kate Nicholl will take up the first citizen's role at the beginning of next month, succeeding the DUP's Frank McCoubrey.
The next deputy lord mayor on the city council is expected to be drawn from the DUP, with up to three of the party's councillors said to be in the running.
Ms Nicholl, whose father is from Co Down and mother is from South Africa, came to Northern Ireland in 2000.
A former pupil of Methodist College in Belfast, the 33-year-old worked as a researcher for former Alliance MLA Anna Lo.
The married mother of one now works in marketing and represents the Balmoral area in the south of the city.
Speaking last night, she described her adopted home city as "vibrant, welcoming, multicultural and a city which belongs to us all, regardless of background".
"Our Belfast is about showcasing the fantastic work ongoing in our communities, to highlight and celebrate the positives our city offers as we emerge into the unknown of a post-Covid world," she said.
"It has been a tough time for many, but we have an opportunity to make things better – to build back a strong economy, focus on building strong, inclusive community relationships and create a sense of pride in our city."
Ms Nicholl acknowledged that there were divisions in the city but said during her term in office she would promote "how the city – all of it – is ours".
"How together we can take this chance for change, have ownership and responsibility for it – if it has been your home all your life or if it is the city you have chosen to call home," she said.
"Covid has highlighted the gross inequalities which still exist in our society and there is a lot of work to do but by showcasing the best of every area, by building up the voices of children or young people, by helping local businesses recover and by supporting local charities, we will instil a pride in all of us for our Belfast."