ALLIANCE Councillor Tom Ekin has been elected Lord Mayor of Belfast at a meeting of Belfast City Council in City Hall tonight.
After receiving the chain of office and thanking the outgoing Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor and High Sheriffs, Councillor Ekin said he would conduct the functions of Lord Mayor with leadership, responsibility, dignity and integrity.
“I want what is best for Belfast, and my theme for the year will be ‘Unlocking Belfast’s Potential’. I will work to continue the progress we are making towards a brighter Belfast, towards a Belfast we can believe in,” said Cllr Ekin.
“We need to work together to make this city a cleaner, more attractive place to live and work in. I want councillors to work together effectively for all of the people, because we all want what is best for Belfast.
“Over the years, I have learned that our representatives and officers do work more together than against each other, and I want the people to know that this is happening, because we need to present a more positive image of Belfast at home and abroad.
“One of the issues I have always promoted in the Council is about improving relationships; within the Council itself and between councillors, outside bodies and the public. While I will take that forward, we also need to be aware that we must make Belfast a more welcoming place for those who can feel isolated or insecure, such as ethnic minorities.
“I also hope that people with influence in Belfast will be working together for a peaceful summer. We all need to take risks for peace, and if we do, we may make mistakes along the way, but I am sure that with persistence, we really can unlock Belfast’s potential.”
Tom Ekin – some biographical details:
Married with four daughters
Ø Belfast City Councillor, 1997 – present
Ø Chair of Belfast City Council’s Good Relations Working Group, 2002 – present
Ø Former Chairperson of Alliance, 2000 – 2002
Tom Ekin and his family have lived and worked in South Belfast for many years. As a councillor, Tom has initiated an anti-litter drive to improve Belfast’s appearance, and £1m is being set aside to help reduce the current annual cost of £10m for street cleaning.
He is Chair of the Good Relations working group of Councillors and others, which aims to improve relationships in this frequently stormy City Hall. Both campaigns are visionary, long-term programmes, but as a marathon runner Tom has proved his stamina many times.
A businessman, Cllr Ekin has invested considerably to provide jobs and opportunities in South Belfast.