Niall Ó Donnghaile was only elected to Belfast City Council three weeks ago, but tonight was confirmed as Sinn Féin’s choice for Lord Mayor. He turns 26 at the weekend and is the city’s youngest ever first citizen. Under the d’Hondt rotation, Sinn Féin will get
two Lord Mayors during the next four years. The DUP’s Ruth Patterson will be deputy Lord Mayor. three
Niall is a press officer with Sinn Féin up at the Assembly, and councillor for Pottinger. During his year in office, he’ll be able to welcome Sinn Féin’s Ard Fheis to Belfast’s Waterfront when it visits in September.
Update – Just in case anyone thinks they’ll have trouble pronouncing Niall’s surname, put your fears behind you. Here’s a clip of how Niall says it … or just stick to “Lord Mayor”! (Belfast City Council has a whole webpage devoted to how to address the Lord Mayor in speech and in writing.)
Back in November 2009, I interviewed Niall and we talked about changes East Belfast, how Sinn Féin was developing, as well as what attracted him into the world of politics.
I asked him whether he was hopeful that there would ever be enough of a vote to get a Sinn Féin candidate elected in East Belfast?
I don’t think it’s impossible, especially with what we alluded to earlier on and the changing nature of East Belfast. Once Titanic Quarter is finished, once Sirocco Quays is finished, this constituency is going to be dramatically different in terms of its makeup.
All the parties will be fishing in that pool, not just Sinn Féin. But I would be confident that if we can be strong enough, if we can be articulate enough and relevant enough in East Belfast particularly in relation to the developments that are going to happen behind me, I think eventually you’ll see the numbers there to elect a Sinn Féin representative whoever that may be.
But for me elections are important … If you are a politico like myself, they can be enjoyable and they can be a good experience, but I don’t need to be elected to do work for people on the ground and whether I am elected or unelected that won’t stop me either way. Some people do work to get elected. Others get elected to do work.
You can read the full interview over on Alan in Belfast.
Alan Meban. Tweets as @alaninbelfast. Blogs about cinema and theatre over at Alan in Belfast. A freelancer who writes about, reports from, live-tweets and live-streams civic, academic and political events and conferences. He delivers social media training/coaching; produces podcasts and radio programmes; is a FactCheckNI director; a member of Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Northern Ireland; and a member of the Corrymeela Community.