DUP councillor Frank McCoubrey to become lord mayor of Belfast

By Mark Simpson
BBC News NI

  • Published
Frank McCoubreyImage source, Pacemaker

DUP councillor Frank McCoubrey is set to become the new lord mayor of Belfast.

However, the traditional handover of the chain of office will be done differently next week, in line with social distancing rules.

The lord mayor's chain will not be physically handed over, instead it will be placed on a table.

The meeting will not be open to the public and only 18 of the 60 Belfast councillors will be allowed inside the chamber, but proceedings will be streamed live online.

Mr McCoubrey was once a member of a party with links to loyalist paramilitaries, the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP).

He was first elected to the council in 1997 as a member of the UDP.

He later became an independent and subsequently joined the DUP in November 2012.

Outgoing Lord Mayor Danny Baker, from west Belfast, has been in office since December.

He took over from party colleague John Finucane, who stepped aside from the role after being elected MP for North Belfast.

The top posts in Northern Ireland's 11 councils traditionally change hands during the first week in June.

'Looking forward to the next century'

Other councils are also making changes to comply with social distancing.

Derry City and Strabane District Council has been holding virtual meetings, using video technology.

Image caption,
Sinn Féin councillor Daniel Baker has been in office since December

However, a small number of councillors and officials may come together next week to mark the election of a new mayor.

In Belfast, the 18 councillors allowed in the chamber will sit more than 2m apart.

Looking ahead to his year in office, the incoming Lord Mayor Mr McCoubrey, said: "2021 will be Northern Ireland's centenary.

"I want to work across all sides of the city both celebrating this milestone but also looking forward to the next century."