1. ITV Report

John Finucane vows to be ‘inclusive’ Belfast mayor

John Finucane talks to UTV about taking up the role of Lord Mayor of Belfast. Credit: UTV

John Finucane, the son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, has vowed to put human rights and social justice for all at the heart of his term of office as new Lord Mayor of Belfast.

After something of a meteoric rise, having only formally entered politics in 2017, the 39-year-old takes on the role after being elected to the city’s council just weeks ago.

Becoming mayor 30 years after his father’s murder by loyalists, in an attack found to have involved collusion with the state, marks a bittersweet achievement.

Mr Finucane added that he liked to think his dad would be proud.

My mother is a middle-class unionist from east Belfast, my father was a working class Catholic from the Falls Road, I’ve grown up and I continue to live in north Belfast - I don’t think that there should be any area of this city where any citizen feels they’re not welcome.

– John Finucane

Mr Finucane told UTV he was very proud to be elected in the Castle ward of north Belfast, the area in which he was born and raised and in which he still lives.

“The fact that the party then nominated me to be the first citizen of Belfast, to be the mayor, I’m really delighted,” the solicitor and Sinn Féin politician said.

“A very, very proud day for me and my family. I’m very happy that they have shown faith in me – I hope to repay that.”

He added that he hoped he would prove to be an inclusive mayor during his term of office, one who stands up for the rights of everyone in the city.

“I’ve been doing that in my professional life long enough, I don’t see any problem with continuing that in my political life,” he said.

Professionally, I’ve represented people with very strong political opinions different to my own – I don’t see the office of mayor as being different from that.

– John Finucane

Mr Finucane also said he felt Belfast was “a lot more subtle than green and orange”.

“It is a multicultural, multinational city and I will be shameless in pushing and promoting Belfast for the year ahead,” he added.

“I think it’s a wonderful city.”

Asked how he would respond to critics who would claim he cannot represent everyone, Mr Finucane said simply: “Judge me at the end of the year.”

He added: “I am starting off my term in office reaching out to everybody, saying very clearly with a strong commitment that I am here to represent everybody.

“There will be opportunities for me to show that and I can promise people now that I won’t be found wanting.”