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Alliance group to support DUP Belfast Lord Mayor

May 26, 2005 12:00 AM

After a series of meetings with other party groups within City Hall, the Alliance Party Group have today announced their intention to support the DUP candidate for Lord Mayor and the SDLP candidate for Deputy Lord Mayor at the Annual General Meeting of Belfast City Council this evening.

Alliance Party Group Leader, Naomi Long, said, "As a Group we would have preferred to have agreement as to a way forward for the next four years, in

order to deliver continuity from one mayoral term to the next and to maximise the impact which successive Lord Mayors can have on promoting and enhancing the image of the City. However, given the difficult political context in which these discussions are taking place, this has not been

possible, and so we have been working hard to bring about maximum consensus for this year.

"The DUP are now the largest party within City Hall, and did not hold the post of Lord Mayor in the last 4 year term; however, we have always argued that the post is too important to allow party strength alone to determine the outcome. We have, therefore, met with their candidate, Cllr Wallace Browne, to discuss his vision for the coming year and his intended approach to a variety of issues.

"He has indicated willingness to incorporate and carry forward, within his agenda, some of the very worthwhile initiatives and projects which my party

colleague, Cllr Tom Ekin has driven forward during his term as Lord Mayor, giving the City some of the continuity of approach which we have been

seeking. He has also indicated that he will aim to represent all the people of Belfast and will endeavour to be inclusive in his ethos. We believe that the time is right to offer him the opportunity to deliver on these commitments.

"In addition, the SDLP have indicated their willingness to run for Deputy Mayor and we have, as a group, also given them a commitment to support their candidate this evening.

"Should they be successful this evening, we hope that both parties will use this opportunity wisely, to continue to improve the reputation and image of our City at home and abroad, and to provide civic leadership within the City to bring people together, as Tom Ekin has so ably done in the course of the past year. One positive indicator for the coming year would be if we could

achieve cross-community support for both candidates in the voting this evening, which would represent a major step forward for our Council, and we are continuing to work towards this objective."

ENDS

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