Belfast lord mayor: Alliance councillor Micky Murray to take up role

Micky Murray
Micky Murray says he is committed to creating a more "inclusive" city [BBC]

The next lord mayor of Belfast is set to be Alliance councillor Micky Murray.

Mr Murray says he is committed to creating a more "inclusive" city and describes himself as "the very first openly gay lord mayor that we've ever had".

The position in Belfast is largely ceremonial and dates back to 1892.

Mr Murray is set to replace Sinn Féin's Ryan Murphy in the post in June, with the top positions at Belfast City Hall rotating annually.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is due to fill the role of deputy lord mayor in June.

Speaking on Good Morning Ulster on Tuesday, Mr Murray said his sexuality was relevant in his new political role.

"For my community it does matter," he said.

"For years there weren't minorities represented in local politics and local politics should represent the communities that we're elected to represent

"I want to work with as many LGBT organisations as possible to figure out the voice that they have wand what they expect from Belfast City Council."

Mr Murray, 32, works in a constituency office for Alliance and has served on Belfast City Council since 2022.

There was a complaint about one of his social media posts in 2017 when he was pictured wearing the lord mayor's chain, even though he was not a councillor at the time.

He wrote beside the picture: "My first act as First Gay of Belfast is banning the DUP from the city and making rainbows compulsory."

At the time the DUP criticised the Facebook post and called it a "misjudgement".

Asked about the post at City Hall as he prepares to don the mayoral chain for real in June, Mr Murray played down the incident.

"That was quite clearly a joke. It was on my personal Facebook page," he said,

"I have a very good track record of working with councillors from across all parties whether it be on constituency issues or council-wide issues, and I think everyone understood that it was a joke."

It was put to him that the DUP might not regard it as a joke, and may be concerned about unfair treatment from the new lord mayor.

"I don't think they've got anything to worry about," he said.

'A progressive city'

Looking ahead to his 12 months in office, Mr Murray said he felt he could bring "something new" to the role.

He said: "One hundred and thirty years' history of the lord mayor position and we've never had someone who's openly LGBT.

"I think that's something that I bring to the role, some representation of a community that's never been represented in that role.

"Belfast as a whole is quite a progressive city. There's so much happening in the city around LGBT rights.

"It's a very small minority of people who need to change their views and their attitudes towards the LGBT community."

Mr Murray said his focus would be on showing that Belfast is an inclusive, active and caring city.

"My background before politics was in the homeless sector and I really want to use this as an opportunity to highlight the great work that's going on in our homeless sector," he said.

Alliance have 11 councillors out of 60 on the council.

Previous mayors from the party have included Kate Nicholl, Nuala McAllister, current party leader Naomi Long and her husband Michael.

The first Alliance mayor was David Cook in 1978.

He was the first non-unionist to hold the job since Northern Ireland was established in 1921.