A marathon-running Methodist has pledged to advance Belfast’s “international connections” after being elected the city’s new Lord Mayor.
DUP councillor Brian Kingston – an Orangeman who represents the Court ward in the north of the city – will serve in the role for one year.
Mary Ellen Campbell, a Sinn Fein councillor for the Castle ward of north Belfast, was elected as deputy mayor at a council meeting on Wednesday night.
Councillor Kingston takes over the Lord Mayor’s reins from Sinn Fein man Arder Carson, while councillor Campbell replaces DUP man Guy Spence in the deputy’s role.
The changes are with immediate effect.
Councillor Kingston is a married father-of-three, 50, lives in Ballysillan, and has a background in community development work.
He is a member of Joanmount Methodist Church as well as Glencairn LOL 1242 and Sons of Ulster Royal Black Preceptory No 375.
A keen runner, he completed the Belfast Marathon on Mayday this year.
He is also a former pupil of Methodist College, and went to the University of Manchester and Queen’s University Belfast.
In a post-election statement, he declared that the new role is a “great honour”.
“I will do my utmost during my term of office to promote the inclusive growth of our capital city’s economy, to advance our international connections, attract international events and to support all those who make Belfast a compassionate and caring city,” he said.
“I will dedicate myself to the role of representing all the people of our city in an important year which includes the solemn occasion of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.”
Sinn Fein said that councillor Campbell’s appointment makes her the first openly gay deputy mayor the city has had.
She said in a statement: “I believe with this nomination my party has shown our commitment to equality...
“I look forward to representing all the citizens of Belfast in the role of Deputy Mayor regardless of creed, class, gender or ethnicity and discharging my duties in the most inclusive and equal basis possible.”