Sinn Fein's Maskey elected Mayor of Belfast


Belfast has elected its first Sinn Féin Lord Mayor. Mr Alex Maskey was elected by just one vote at a meeting of the city council.

He was supported by three Alliance party members andthe SDLP.

Mr Alex Maskey

Belfast councillors, however, failed to elect a deputy mayor to serve alongside Mr Maskey.

The three Alliance councillors had been under pressure from unionists to withdraw their support over allegations that the IRA has been involved in the ongoing sectarian clashes in east Belfast.

Mr David Alderdice, the Alliance leader on Belfast City Council and party leader Mr David Ford held talks with the Security Minister, Ms Jane Kennedy, this morning. She told them that the British government's view was the IRA's ceasefire remained intact.

Unionists were furious at his election, however.

"This is a disgraceful decision, rewarding an organisation which has been involved in the destruction of Belfast over the past 30 years, Mr McGimpsey.

"What it means for the council is that there is no partnership. Unionists will not be working with Sinn Féin at civic government at the highest level."

The Ulster Unionist councillor said his party would not be seeking the role of deputy mayor at the next meeting of the city council.

He claimed the election of Mr Maskey should serve as a reminder to all those unionist voters who stayed away from the ballot boxes at last year's local government elections why they should vote.

Democratic Unionist councillor MrNelson McCausland described the vote as a "night of shame" for the city.

He said it was also "a night of sadness for all those who have suffered at the hands of IRA/Sinn Féin over the past 30 years".