Alliance calls for ‘equality’ over Belfast high sheriff post

Alliances Michael Long is unhappy at partys exclusion from a Royal post
Alliances Michael Long is unhappy at partys exclusion from a Royal post

The Alliance Party are unhappy at their exclusion from a Royal post in Belfast.

Following the appointment of the 16th consecutive unionist councillor to the position of high sheriff of Belfast, the party have called for a more inclusive approach to the appointment.

Alliance councillor Michael Long said Belfast City Council needs to embrace equality in allocating the post to which DUP councillor Tom Haire has been appointed.

The role makes Mr Haire the judicial representative of Her Majesty the Queen in Belfast.

Mr Long was speaking after Alliance councillor Carole Howard failed in her bid to be elected to the post of high sheriff.

The Alliance councillor said: “The post of high sheriff should be representative of the people of Belfast, but over the past 16 years only members of the unionist parties have held this post.”

He claimed Alliance should have had two councillors in the role based on representation.

“If the d’Hondt mechanism were used Alliance would be entitled to hold this post twice during this term.

“I am extremely disappointed and unhappy that yet again unionist councillors have not shown a commitment to the principles of equality and inclusivity.

“For a post representing Her Majesty to be monopolised by one section of the political community is a sad reflection on the commitment of unionist councillors to an inclusive city.”

The post dates back to 1900 and incumbents begin their yearly term in January.

In 2012 the Alliance Party, who are now seeking a Royal position in Belfast, came under attack for their role in the vote to remove the Union Flag from City Hall.