Great news about the historic appointment of two female mayors in Belfast and Derry. SDLP women Nichola Mallon and Brenda Stevenson made history at the start of June as they took on these roles in their respective cities.
I am delighted that, for the first time, both Belfast and Derry will have strong women as their First Citizens. It has been a great privilege to work with Nichola Mallon and Brenda Stevenson as they’ve been outstanding public representatives during their time on council.
At a time when others have failed to respect difference, the appointment of Nichola and Brenda this evening sends a powerful message that our politics is enhanced when we embrace diversity. Public service is no longer the domain of men alone. And I believe we will be the better for it.
These appointments come on the back of a local government election which saw the SDLP return a strong council team that is 40% women – more than any other party. Our commitment to equality of opportunity has resulted in a strong, robust team of civic leaders that is more representative of the community across Northern Ireland than ever.
I wish Nichola and Brenda well in their year ahead and look forward to working with both to make Belfast and Derry sources of hope, ambition and diversity.