Youngest Ever Mayor For Belfast

A 25-year-old Sinn Fein activist who was only recently elected as a new member of Belfast City Council, as a representative for the Pottinger ward of east Belfast, last night became Belfast's youngest ever Lord Mayor.

Niall Ó Donnghaile was already a full time party activist, joining the party at the age of 16, and was Sinn Fein's Press Officer in the Stormont Assembly.

Educated through the Irish Medium sector, Councillor Ó Donnghaile (who is pictured here) is a politics graduate and a fluent Irish speaker who actively campaigns on language rights and equality.

He was born and bred in the Short Strand area of the city where he is well known for his community work. He is a member of the Short Strand Partnership Board, which lobbies for economic and social regeneration in east Belfast.

A GAA enthusiast, Councillor Ó Donnghaile is an avid support of the County Down football team.

Councillor Ó Donnghaile succeeds the SDLP's Pat Convery who handed over the chain of office at last night's meeting in Belfast City Hall.

He becomes the city's third Sinn Fein Lord Mayor, following in the footsteps of Alex Maskey in 2002 and Tom Hartley in 2008.

News Image
Councillor Ruth Patterson from the DUP was elected Deputy Lord Mayor and went straight into controversy after she snubbed the newly elected Sinn Fein first citizen.

Niall O Donnghaile offered his congratulations to Mrs Patterson but she did not acknowledge him.

"I wanted to wish her congratulations, it is unfortunate she refused to accept them," Mr O Donnghaile said.

Today, while Mrs Patterson was not available, a statement from her party backed her position.

Alderman Robin Newton, DUP Group Leader on the council, said his party was committed to a positive agenda in Belfast.

"Ruth Patterson has been a councillor for more than ten years. She knows how council meetings should be conducted and what the protocol is for such occasions.

"She will be a fine ambassador for our city and brings a wealth of experience and dynamism to the role which others can only aspire to," the statement said, but also noted a recent rule change in how top council positions are allocated.

Now, these are to be handed out on the basis of party strength and not that of political groupings.

See: Joint City Hall Unionist Grouping Defeated


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

23 July 2009
Belfast 'Twelfth' Was Shopping Hit
Initial feedback on the commercial impact of Belfast shops being open over the traditional 'Twelfth' celebration has been excellent. This year's event, titled 'Orangefest' on 13 July witnessed Belfast city centre shops opening on the day of the parades for the first time.
12 October 2004
City Hall prepares for bookworm invasion
Belfast City Hall is preparing itself for an invasion of young bookworms later this month. Belfast City Council is teaming up with two major cultural festivals, Young at Art and the Belfast Festival at Queen’s, to open up the world of children’s literature.
05 April 2004
Business membership figures show 'massive' increase
Figures released today by Belfast City Centre Management and the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce show a massive increase in the number of businesses joining their joint membership scheme.
01 November 2007
Cyprus Trade Links To Be Explored
Eight Belfast businesses are going to sunny Cyprus later this month to explore potential trade links. The five-day mission, which starts on November 5th, will be the fifth such initiative organised by Belfast City Council to the Mediterranean island.
15 March 2004
St Patrick's Day event has support of BCC says councillor
The Chairman of Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Steering Panel has challenged claims that the Council is not supporting St Patrick’s Day in Belfast. It follows a protest outside Belfast City Hall last week by the St Patrick's Carnival Committee who claim the Council isn't funding this year's event at the City Hall.