ARMAGH’S first citizen has expressed her delight that the city has been conferred with a lord mayorality to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Mayor Freda Donnelly – who along with her successors will be elevated to the status of Lord Mayor under the new arrangements – was speaking after it was announced yesterday that the historic city had beaten off competition from Gloucester, Peterborough and Wakefield to scoop the award.
Armagh joins a select band of only 30 other UK cities that have Lord Mayors and is only the second Northern Ireland city to enjoy this honour along with Belfast.
Mrs Donnelly said she was “absolutely delighted” with the development.
“I would like to pay a special tribute to the council staff who forwarded the application and thank them for their hard work and dedication,” the DUP woman said.
“It is a great endorsement to all involved with Armagh City and District Council for their foresight and vision for the community at large.”
Under the revised arrangements, the new Lord Mayor will have the honorific title of ‘The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Armagh’ for as long as they hold the office.
Mrs Donnelly confirmed the documents would be issued to the council in due course. Asked how the new title would feel once formally granted, Mrs Donnelly joked: “I think I could get used to it.”
Secretary of State Owen Paterson led congratulations to Armagh council. He said: “Armagh’s venerable past from the time of Saint Patrick was doubtless a key factor in helping it beat the other competitors in the civic honours competition.”
Armagh was previously conferred with city status by the Queen in 1994.
DUP MLA William Irwin said it would be one of the “focal points” for the Jubilee celebrations in June and expressed his hope the Queen would visit the area as part of her current UK tour.
Meanwhile, city status was conferred yesterday on the towns of Chelmsford in England, St Asaph in Wales and Perth in Scotland.
Coleraine and Craigavon were among 25 bids for the separate competition, but neither were shortlisted.
The awards were made by the Queen on the advice of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg following a competition to bid for civic honours launched in December 2010.
Mr Clegg said the decision to award a new city in England, Scotland and Wales and a lord mayoralty in Northern Ireland reflected the significance of every part of the UK in the Diamond Jubilee year.
He said: “I hope the competition has given the residents of all of the places which applied a sense of civic pride, of collective ownership and of community spirit.”