Cllr Michael Long stated: “Following our party’s decision not to back an Ulster Unionist candidate, we are delighted all parties backed us in assuring an SDLP member of the position.
“Despite our differences with them, it is highly appropriate that the SDLP has the Deputy Mayoral position for the first time. This is good news for community relations in the borough.
“Earlier in the week we made clear we would not back the Ulster Unionists due to its links with the UVF, an active paramilitary organization which has not decommissioned, and which carried out an attempted murder even since the Assembly link-up with the Ulster Unionists. We are pleased that other parties followed our lead.
“Given Castlereagh has been a byword for intolerance in the past, it is pleasing to see parties from across the community working together with the result that the Alliance Party and now the SDLP have held the post of Deputy Mayor in consecutive years.
“We would now hope that the Ulster Unionists will drop any direct links to paramilitarism, so that all the parties can continue to cooperate in this manner.
“The Alliance Group in Castlereagh was not prepared to turn a blind eye to the grubby deal between the Ulster Unionists and the PUP in the Assembly. This may have given Ulster Unionists an extra seat in an imaginary executive, but they must have realized it would have very real negative consequences. There was some indication of that today.”