Two women have been elected as mayor and deputy mayor of Belfast for the first time.
The appointment of the SDLP’s Nichola Mallon as first citizen and the Alliance’s party Maire Hendron as the deputy were confirmed at City Hall on Monday night.
Ms Mallon, a councillor in the Oldpark ward in the north of the city, has also become the first female nationalist Lord Mayor of Belfast. She succeeds outgoing mayor Sinn Fein’s Mairtin O Muilleoir.
As the DUP’s Lydia Patterson is the incumbent high sheriff, all the top civic roles in council are now held by women.
Ms Mallon, 34, said: “It is a tremendous honour to be appointed as the Lord Mayor of Belfast. I want to congratulate Mairtin O Muilleoir on a fantastic year in office and thank my own party for nominating me to take on such a privileged position.
“I have had the privilege of representing the Oldpark area, the place I grew up in, for the last four and a half years. The most wonderful part of being a councillor, for me, continues to be the many unsung heroes I get to meet - all those people who through their compassion and selflessness, makes this city the special place that it is.
“All of these people - our coaches, carers, volunteers, business people, community and faith workers - put their local community first. It is these very people, who too often go unnoticed, who have inspired my vision for my year as Lord Mayor.
“I want to take the Lord Mayor’s role out of City Hall and into people’s lives - their homes, their communities, their places of work. I want to connect with those who at times feel invisible in our city. I want to celebrate and showcase our unsung heroes who really are Belfast’s First Citizens.
“Belfast is a city for everyone. Where everyone belongs and where we are all the better for having each other. I look forward to the months ahead in my new role.”
Former teacher Mrs Hendron, a representative for the Pottinger district, said her priority in post would be to bring people together.
“During my year in office, I would hope to play my part in building a more inclusive city that is open to all,” she said.
“I want to work with all groups from different backgrounds to further improve Belfast’s diversity, which is source of strength for our society.
“I know I will work well with the new Lord Mayor, Nichola Mallon, and I am delighted that this will be the first occasion that two women will be the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast at the same time.”