Alliance’s Michael Long speaks his first words as Belfast Lord Mayor in Irish

The new Alliance Lord Mayor of Belfast has begun his short stint in the role with a few words of Irish.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 4:55 pm
Michael Long moments after adopting the chain of office
Michael Long moments after adopting the chain of office

At the monthly full meeting of Belfast City Council on Monday, Alliance councillor Michael Lon (husband of party leader and former Lord Mayor Naomi Long) introduced himself as the by saying “I am delighted to be the new Lord Mayor for Belfast” in Irish.

Mr Long – who is the second Canadian-born person to hold the role of First Citizen – will only be mayor for three weeks, after the previous mayor Kate Nicholl was elected to the Stormont Assembly.

Her time in the office was due to end on June 1.

Sinn Fein party group leader councillor Ciaran Beattie thanked the new mayor “for keeping the seat warm” – a reference to the fact the next mayor will be nominated from Sinn Fein’s elected representatives in the council.

Lord Mayor Long told the chamber: “I am sure many of you are shocked to see me here today. Nobody is more shocked than I am to be perfectly honest. I’d just like to thank my party colleagues for nominating me to this position. It is a great honour.

“It has been a bizarre day, in what has been a very strange few weeks for me, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank the previous Lord Mayor, Kate Nicholl for the job she has done in our city.

“She has been an inspiration to everyone across our city, she has brought a whole new way of doing things.

“I am going to be honest and say I am not even going to try to keep up with her, because there is absolutely no chance of doing that.

“It is great that my mum has been able to be here today.

“My father passed away a few weeks ago, obviously it is a pity he can’t be here, but I am sure he will be looking down from somewhere, proud today.

“I am very proud to be the second Canadian born Lord Mayor in Belfast, after Lord William Pirrie, who was also the Chair of Harland and Wolff. He was mayor from 1896 to 1898.

“It is probably of more interest to say I am the second foreign-born lord mayor in a row for this city and I think that sends a very positive message that this city is open, welcoming and inclusive and wants to reach out to everybody in our society.”

There are six vacancies in the council now after members were elected to the assembly following last Thursday’s vote.

They were Kate Nicholl, Nuala McAllister and Peter McReynolds from the Alliance Party, Brian Kingston and David Brooks of the DUP, and Sinn Fein’s Danny Baker. Each party will co-opt a new councillor to fill the vacancies.

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