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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 06:12 GMT 07:12 UK
Mayor may visit republican areas
New Lord Mayor of Belfast Wallace Brown
Wallace Brown has sat on Belfast City Council since 1985
The new DUP Lord Mayor of Belfast has refused to rule out making official visits to republican areas of the city.

Wallace Browne saw off the challenge of the only other candidate, Sinn Fein's Caral Ni Chuilin, by 37 votes to 14.

The SDLP's Pat Convery, a councillor for north Belfast, was elected as deputy lord mayor.

The new first citizen, who is regarded as a moderate, was elected with the support of the UUP, Alliance Party and the SDLP.

"I see myself as a party politician, a party man that abides by the rules," he said.

"But at the same time I think we have to move forward, and I believe that the DUP, now that it's the largest party in Northern Ireland, has got certain responsibilities.

"I believe that we can proceed with programmes that can benefit all the people of Northern Ireland."

Paul Maskey, leader of the Sinn Fein group, said his party had been "blocked" from top council posts.

Poll topper

"Sinn Fein remains the largest party in Belfast in terms of votes secured at the last election. This must be reflected in the allocation of senior positions at City Hall," he said.

"Sinn Fein will strenuously oppose any squalid cross-party arrangement geared toward denying democratic rights to our party and electors."

The party's Alex Maskey became the city's first republican lord mayor in 2002 and the party's Joe O'Donnell was the city's last deputy mayor.

Mr Browne, a retired teacher, has been on the council since 1985, and topped the poll in the Victoria ward in the election.

The leader of the Alliance Party group, Naomi Long, said they discussed Mr Browne's vision of his year in office with him before supporting him.

"As a group we would have preferred to have agreement as to a way forward for the next four years, in order to deliver continuity from one mayoral term to the next and to maximise the impact which successive lord mayors can have on promoting and enhancing the image of the city," she said.

"However, given the difficult political context in which these discussions are taking place, this has not been possible, and so we have been working hard to bring about maximum consensus for this year."

New Belfast lord mayor elected
02 Jun 04 |  Northern Ireland
From barman to Belfast's first citizen
05 Jun 02 |  Northern Ireland

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