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4 June 2018

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'Tidal wave of change sweeping across Ireland' - new mayor of Belfast Deirdre Hargey

"Ireland’s people, north and south are changing Irish society, for all its people. They are changing it at the ballot box and they are changing it on the streets. And in this City Council we are contributing to that change." - Mayor Deirdre Hargey.

A tidal wave of change is sweeping across Ireland, the new mayor of Belfast, Sinn Féin councillor Deirdre Hargey told the Annual General Meeting of Belfast City Council tonight. 

Councillor Hargey was elected as Belfast newest First Citizen and Sinn Féin's first female mayor of Belfast at the meeting in Belfast City Hall this evening.

In her first speech after taking the chain of office, the new mayor said Ireland, north and south, is changing and added that Belfast is a changed city in a changed Ireland. 

"Ireland’s people, north and south are changing Irish society, for all its people. They are changing it at the ballot box and they are changing it on the streets. And in this City Council we are contributing to that change," she said. 

The new mayor referred to the recent referendum in the South to repeal the 8th amendment and and the 2015 referendum on marriage equality and called for similar changes in the north. 

"There is a tidal wave of change sweeping across Ireland. It is people led and from all sections of our society

"It doesn’t recognise borders, real or imaginary, because it is responding to the needs of people living in a society which needs to change to ensure there is space for all its people, from Belfast to Dublin, Derry to Cork, Limerick to Lisburn, Galway to Newry," she said. 

Councillor Hargey said she will use her term as mayor to promote equality for everyone in Belfast. 

"Belfast City Council has, and will continue, to respond to the needs of the people of this city as the needs arise.

"This Council is for marriage equality. I as mayor of this city am for marriage equality.

"In my year in office I will provide a platform for women in their drive for equality and respect.

"I will provide a platform for the LGBT community seeking their rights, including marriage equality.

"I will highlight and defend the rights of Irish Language speakers, the right for that community to speak in Irish and be educated and live through the medium of Irish; from East to West, North to South Belfast where we have thriving Irish language communities," she explained. 

The new mayor also said she would continue to drive forward reconciliation initiatives in her term of office. 

"We are a city and a society emerging from political conflict. I was 14 when the ceasefires were called. It’s now been 20 years since the signing of Good Friday Agreement and I believe that we can build an inclusive and reconciled city that respects our differing narratives on the past, one which confronts sectarianism in all its forms, but one which can build a collective and inclusive future that cherishes all of our children on the basis of Equality and Rights." 

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