Irish-medium Education — Mayoral Appointments: Representation and Diversity

Members' Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly am 10:30 am ar 4 Mehefin 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Paula Bradshaw Paula Bradshaw Alliance 10:30, 4 Mehefin 2024

I congratulate the new mayors and deputy mayors who were sworn in in council chambers across Northern Ireland last night, and I extend my best wishes to those who will have council AGMs later this week. In particular, I note the historic appointment of my Alliance Party colleague and friend Councillor Micky Murray as the first LGBT Lord Mayor of Belfast. It took 132 years.

I was not called to make a Member's statement yesterday, but, in many ways, I am glad that I did not get in, because I had not realised quite how much that appointment means to the LGBT community in Belfast. Last night, I sat in the gallery, where the cheers were immense. We could also hear people cheering from the lawn of City Hall. It was a night that our city celebrated. Visibility matters, and representation matters.

In another chamber, this time in Newry, Mourne and Down, Councillor Pete Byrne was appointed the first LGBT chairperson of that council alongside my Alliance Party colleague Councillor Dave Lee-Surginor, who will serve with him as deputy chairperson. He is from the Chinese community. Yesterday, we heard Sinéad McLaughlin congratulate her colleague Lillian Seenoi-Barr on becoming the first black Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council. She portrayed Lillian's wonderfully powerful story of endurance as she battled to attain her refugee status. It was a wonderful evening that demonstrated our changing society.

Despite all those wonderful appointments, we have still not seen the launch of the refugee integration strategy, nor have we seen the publication of the sexual orientation strategy as promised under New Decade, New Approach.

Those two strategies, with action plans and appropriate funding, would allow more people to enter public life and achieve their dreams and goals.