Sinn Fein take most top positions on Northern Ireland councils after historic election

Belfast City Council Chamber
Belfast City Council Chamber Credit: Presseye

Northern Ireland's 11 councils have chosen their new first citizens.

It comes after the recent local government elections which seen Sinn Féin emerge with 144 seats, the DUP with 122, Alliance with 67, UUP with 54, SDLP 39 and others 36.

Councils select either lord mayors, deputy lord mayor or chair and deputy chairs.

Positions are mainly ceremonial but they become the face of the council representing its people at many events, ribbon-cutting ceremonies and leading meetings.

Sinn Féin holds nine positions, the DUP five, SDLP three, Alliance two, UUP one, the Green Party one and the TUV one.

The Green Party secured its very first mayoral position following Áine Groogan's appointment as Belfast City Council's Deputy Lord Mayor.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council

Deputy Mayor Rosie Kinnear (Sinn Féin) (l) and Mayor Mark Cooper BEM (DUP) (r)

Mayor: Mark Cooper BEM (DUP)

Deputy Mayor: Rosie Kinnear (Sinn Féin)

“It is an honour and privilege to be elected as Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, I look forward to my term in office and serving the people of our Borough,” Councillor Cooper said.

“I would like to pay tribute to my colleagues Alderman Stephen Ross and Councillor Leah Smyth for their exemplary work in the past year.”

Ards and North Down Borough Council

Mayor Jennifer Gilmour (DUP) (l) and Deputy Mayor Hannah Irwin (Alliance) (r)

Mayor: Jennifer Gilmour (DUP)

Deputy Mayor: Hannah Irwin (Alliance)

Councillor Gilmour said: “Having grown up on a farm I am not afraid to get my hands dirty and get stuck into hard work and I look forward to the challenges ahead during my term. This appointment today makes me the youngest female Mayor of Ards and North Down, something that I am very proud of.

“As a mother to three young girls, I understand the challenges of busy family life faced by many homes and residents across the Borough. I would like to thank my girls for all their love and support, they inspire me to be the best I can be. With this in mind I wish to make Families a theme for my Mayoral year.”

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council

Lord Mayor Margaret Tinsley (DUP) (l) and Deputy Mayor Sorchá McGeown (Sinn Féin) (r)

Lord Mayor: Margaret Tinsley (DUP)

Deputy Mayor: Sorchá McGeown (Sinn Féin)

“In my term as Lord Mayor I want to help champion the Borough as the heart of the economy in Northern Ireland, to drive growth, create jobs and support investment,” Councillor Tinsley said.

“I am very aware that the economic outlook is challenging for residents and businesses, I want to play a key role in driving the agenda for change to support their needs.”

Councillor Sorchá McGeown said: "I’m honoured to be elected as the next Deputy Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough.

“It will be a privilege to give civic representation to all across our Borough.

“I am looking forward to working with the Lord Mayor to promote the potential of local businesses and to doing all we can to support families and our communities during my term in office.”

Belfast City Council

Belfast Lord Mayor Ryan Murphy (Sinn Féin) (l) and Áine Groogan (Green Party) (r)

Lord Mayor: Ryan Murphy (Sinn Féin)

Deputy Mayor: Áine Groogan (Green Party)

“I want to make our city the best it can be for all our residents and their families – it’s bursting with potential and I want to showcase that strength and diversity during my term,” said Councillor Murphy.

“These are difficult times for workers, local businesses and community organisations, so I will work with all parties to ensure we deliver first-class council services to support everyone in the city, and unlock Belfast’s potential by delivering better health, education and job opportunities.”

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council

Steven Callaghan (DUP) (l) and Deputy Mayor Margaret-Anne McKillop (SDLP)

Mayor: Steven Callaghan (DUP)

Deputy Mayor: Margaret-Anne McKillop (SDLP)

Derry City and Strabane District Council

Mayor Patricia Logue (Sinn Féin) (l) and Deputy Mayor Jason Barr (SDLP) (r)

Mayor: Patricia Logue (Sinn Féin)

Deputy Mayor: Jason Barr (SDLP)

“I believe that every citizen of this region has a right to have their voice heard and their aspirations respected,” said Councillor Logue.

“That is the approach which Sandra took and I fully intend to follow her example. Of course, I also know the coming year will be an intense and demanding one. Workers and families continue to face many challenges and there is big work ahead of us in continuing the transformation of this city for the better.

“We must do everything possible, within our power as a local authority, to continue to support workers and families and public services through the rising cost-of-living and deliver first-class council services.”

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council

Chair Thomas O’Reilly (Sinn Féin) (l) and Vice-Chair Ann-Marie Donnelly (Sinn Féin) (r)

Chair: Thomas O’Reilly (Sinn Féin)

Vice-Chair: Ann-Marie Donnelly (Sinn Féin)

Councillor O’Reilly said: “I believe it is important that our Council is accessible to all residents and that we actively engage with them. I particularly look forward to engaging with the business community and highlighting the many issues this sector faces as we continue to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and the Cost of Living crisis.”

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council

Cllr Andrew Gowan and and Cllr Gary McCleave

Mayor: Andrew Gowan (DUP)

Deputy: Gary McCleave (Sinn Féin)

Councillor Gowan said: "It is truly an honour to be nominated as Mayor and I will give this role my all throughout the next year.

"I look forward to working in partnership with local people, to deliver positive outcomes for everyone. As a father of four young children, I want to engage young people in many aspects of civic life and lead by example to inspire future generations."

Councillor McCleave said: “It’s an honour and privilege to be elected Deputy Mayor of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and to be the first Sinn Féin councillor to hold a civic position on this council.   

“I am ready to work for all, and to work together to lead positive and progressive change for every single citizen and every community and I will use the role of Deputy Mayor to help achieve this. 

“We must do everything possible to support workers and families through the cost-of-living and deliver first-class council services. My focus will be on working with everyone to unlock the full potential of the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council area.”

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

Mayor Gerardine Mulvenna (Alliance) (l) and Deputy Mayor Stewart McDonald (TUV)

Mayor: Gerardine Mulvenna (Alliance)

Deputy Mayor: Stewart McDonald (TUV)

Alderman Mulvenna said: “It is a great pleasure and privilege to have been selected to serve as Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

“I thank my party colleagues for placing their faith in me, following on from the citizens who returned me to Council in the recent election. I look forward to repaying your confidence in me and serving you and all the people of Mid and East Antrim as a Mayor for all.”

Councillor McDonald said: "In my time as Deputy Mayor I hope that I will have opportunity not to promote myself or my party but to highlight the contributions of some of those who do so much, often on a voluntary basis, to make Mid and East Antrim such a fantastic place to live in."

Mid Ulster District Council – Dungannon

Chair: Councillor Dominic Molloy (Sinn Féin)Deputy Chair: Councillor Meta Graham (UUP)

Councillor Molly said: "In the coming year, it is my intention to engage with as many of our people and our various sectors as possible; our local employers and employees; our businesses and entrepreneurs; our community and voluntary sectors; and in particular, our sporting groups, our clubs and individuals who do so much across a wide range of levels, abilities and ages, in so many different codes.”

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council

Chairperson Valerie Harte (Sinn Féin) (l) and Deputy Chairperson Gareth Sharvin (SDLP) (r)

Chairperson: Valerie Harte (Sinn Féin)

Deputy Chairperson: Gareth Sharvin (SDLP)

“As a strong advocate for disability, I will mirror this by selecting charities from across the district that provide vital support and outlets for individuals and families of those with disabilities,” Councillor Harte said.

“I believe that everyone deserves equal opportunities and access to resources, and I will work to ensure that this is echoed in all aspects of my work.”

Councillor Sharvin said: "As a keen sportsman, both as player in my day and now a volunteer across my clubs, I want to see our Council being ever ambitious in developing the facilities that we as a Council have to offer, but also to support our sports clubs in growing their own.

"The sports hubs across each District Electoral Areas have the real potential to deliver impact and provide a platform for local people to lead healthy and active lives by improving the quality of our facilities and open spaces.”

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