As Naomi Long prepares to take up the position as new leader of the Alliance Party, we reveal some lesser known facts about the politician known by her followers as The Ginger Ninja.
1. Mrs Long grew up in East Belfast attending Mersey Primary School and Bloomfield Collegiate School.
2. Her father worked in the shipyard and her mother worked in the ropeworks.
3. She had little interest in politics growing up in 1980s East Belfast.
“I never had any aspirations to be a politician. For me what I saw in the 70s and 80s was the failure of politics. I suppose all I saw were men in grey suits shouting at each other on the television.”
4. Mrs Long has a Masters in Civil Engineering at Queen’s University, Belfast.
5. A problem with a student grant at Queen’s gave her her first taste of politics in action. Alliance councillor John Alderdice helped her resolve the problem and Mrs Long said it was her first experience of positive politics.
6. When Mrs Long first became a councillor in 2001 she was working as an engineer.
7. She was 14 when she met her future husband Michael, who is now also involved in politics and is a councillor with the Alliance Party.
“We have been together for a very long time. It is just as well we joined the same party or we might not still be together now.”
8. In 2009 Mrs Long became only the second female Lord Mayor of Belfast.
9. She became known as the Ginger Ninja when she tackled head-on death threats and derogatory comments made about her on Twitter.
10. She serves on the committee of Bloomfield Presbyterian Church and is a senior guider with the Girl Guides.