Cllr Long said, “Over the last number of months we have been in discussions with all of the political parties who have expressed an interest in the post of Lord Mayor this year.
“Over recent years we have tried to explore with each prospective Lord Mayor their vision for their year in office and how they intend, not only to fulfil the basic requirements of the post, but to give civic leadership during the year. We have sought reassurances from prospective candidates regarding how they would seek to represent all the people of Belfast in an inclusive, constructive and positive way.
“We were also keen to build on the progress we achieved with last year’s vote when the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor were elected with cross-community support from Alliance, the DUP and SDLP, a first for the City.
“Based upon our discussions we believe that, in supporting the SDLP nominee for Lord Mayor this year, we can best meet those objectives.
“We have also made it clear that whilst the UUP maintain their formal links with the PUP and the UPRG, and whilst the paramilitary groups to which they are linked are not on ceasefire and refuse to address decommissioning, Alliance will not be in a position to support them for any of the top posts.
“Unlike others, we will not differentiate between loyalist and republican paramilitarism, but want to see all groups commit to exclusively democratic and peaceful means and move towards a peaceful and shared future.”