Northern Ireland

Sinn Féin expected to fill Belfast lord mayor's role for second year running

Belfast City Hall
Belfast City Hall Belfast City Hall

Belfast's next lord mayor is likely to be drawn from Sinn Féin's ranks for the second year in succession following the party's record-breaking performance in last week's local government election.

Sinn Féin won 22 seats in all, with four additional councillors consolidating its place as Belfast City Council's largest party.

The DUP lost one seat, leaving it with 14, while Alliance increased its representation by one to 11.

Belfast's lord mayor has been a Sinn Féin representative five times over the past decade.

The appointment is made using the D'Hondt system, as are committee chairs.

The SDLP's Alban Maginness became the once-unionist dominated city council's first nationalist mayor in 1997, followed five years later by Alex Maskey, the first Sinn Féin representative told hold the office.

Sinn Féin's Tina Black is due to relinquish her role as mayor in the coming days, with her successor elected at the council's AGM on June 5.

It is understood the party has yet to decide who will step into her shoes.

A party spokesperson said the decision would be made "in due course".

Potential candidates include Balmoral representative Geraldine McAteer, Ryan Murphy in Oldpark and Bronagh Anglin, who was elected for the first time last week in Castle.

Belfast Lord Mayor Tina Black. Picture by Alan Lewis/Photopress
Belfast Lord Mayor Tina Black. Picture by Alan Lewis/Photopress Belfast Lord Mayor Tina Black. Picture by Alan Lewis/Photopress

Political commentator and Slugger O'Toole deputy editor David McCann said: "The mayor of Belfast has traditionally used by parties in the past to promote upcoming candidates for Westminster or the assembly – previous first citizens Naomi Long, Gavin Robinson and John Finucane all went onto higher office soon after donning the ceremonial chain.

"One of the reasons being mayor of Belfast helps in this regard is that it's a largely civic role that takes the office bearer out and about, enabling them to engage with all communities and take part in many ceremonial activities."